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O.M.,  F.R.S.,  F.B.A. 

This  book  is  copyright  in  all  countries  which 
are  signatories  to  the  Berne  Convention 

All  rights  reserved.  No  part  of  this  publication 

may  be  reproduced  or  transmitted,  in  any  form  or 

by  any  means  without  permission. 

First  Edition  1936 
Reprinted  1951, 1955,  1963,  1966,  1976 

Published  by 

London  and  Basingstoke 

Associated  companies  in  New  York  Dublin 
Melbourne  Johannesburg  and  Madras 

ISBN  0  333  01282  8 

Printed  in  Hong  Kong  by 
C.  T.  P.  S. 

O  miseras  hominum  mentes,  opectora  caeca! 
Qualibus  in  tenebris  vitae  quantisque  pencils 
Degitur  hoc  aevi  quodcumquest  / 

Lucretius,  Book  II,  lines  14-16. 

This  work  is  sold  subject 

to  the  standard  conditions 

of  the  Net  Book  Agreement 


THIS  book  is  in  no  sense  an  independent  treatise ;  it  is  simply, 
as  the  title  purports,  a  supplement  intended  to  provide  some 
fresh  information  on  certain  subjects  which  I  have  discussed 
more  at  large  in  The  Golden  Bough.  Much  of  the  new 
matter  which  the  volume  contains  has  been  gathered  from 
works  that  have  appeared  since  the  third  and  last  edition  of 
The  Golden  Bough  was  completed  by  the  publication  of  the 
index  volume  in  1915  ;  but  I  have  also  drawn  on  earlier 
sources  which  had  escaped  me  when  I  wrote  the  original 
work.  In  that  work,  as  in  all  my  other  writings,  I  have 
sought  to  base  my  conclusions  by  strict  induction  on  a  broad 
and  solid  foundation  of  well-authenticated  facts.  In  the 
present  work  I  have  extended  and  strengthened  the  founda- 
tion without  remodelling  the  superstructure  of  theory,  which 
on  the  whole  I  have  seen  no  reason  to  change.  But 
now,  as  always,  I  hold  all  my  theories  very  lightly,  and 
am  ever  ready  to  modify  or  abandon  them  in  the  light  of  new 
evidence.  If  my  writings  should  survive  the  writer,  they 
will  do  so,  I  believe,  less  for  the  sake  of  the  theories  which 
they  propound  than  for  the  sake  of  the  facts  which  they 
record.  They  will  live,  if  they  live  at  all,  as  a  picture  or 
moving  panorama  of  the  vanished  life  of  primitive  man  all 
over  the  world,  from  the  Tropics  to  the  Poles,  groping  and 
stumbling  through  the  mists  of  ignorance  and  superstition 
in  the  eternal  search  after  goodness  and  truth.  When  I 




first  put  pen  to  paper  to  write  The  Golden  Rough  I  had 
no  conception  of  the  magnitude  of  the  voyage  on  which  I 
was  embarking ;  I  thought  only  to  explain  a  single  rule  of 
an  ancient  Italian  priesthood.  But  insensibly  I  was  led  on, 
step  by  step,  into  surveying,  as  from  some  specular  height, 
spme  Pisgah  of  the  mind,  a  great  part  of  the  human  race ; 
I  was  beguiled,  as  by  some  subtle  enchanter,  into  inditing 
what  I  cannot  but  regard  as  a  dark,  a  tragic  chronicle  of 
human  error  and  folly,  of  fruitkss  endeavour,  wasted  time, 
and  blighted  hopes.  At  the  best  the  chronicle  may  serve  as 
a  warning,  as  a  sort  of  Ariadne's  thread,  to  help  the  forlorn 
wayfarer  to  shun  some  of  the  snares  and  pitfalls  into  which 
his  fellows  have  fallen  before  him  in  the  labyrinth  of  life. 
Such  as  it  is,  with  all  its  shortcomings,  I  now  submit  The 
Golden  Bough  in  its  completed  form  to  the  judgment  of  my 
contemporaries,  and  perhaps  of  posterity. 


August  1936 


PREFACE   , Pp.  v-vi 

CHAPTER  L— MAGIC Pp.  1-67 

Magic  may  be  divided  into  Homoeopathic  or  Imitative  and  Contagious 
Magic.  A  belief  in  magic  has  greatly  affected  the  lives  of  primitive  people, 
leading  to  economic  stagnation  as  well  as  to  tragic  loss  of  life. 

A  familiar  example  of  homoeopathic  or  imitative  magic  consists  in  making 
and  injuring  a  magical  image  of  an  enemy.  Imitative  magic  is  also  em- 
ployed to  facilitate  childbirth,  as  in  the  Malay  States,  to  relieve  pain,  as 
in  Celebes,  India,  and  Wales,  and  to  cause  sickness  or  death,  as  in  New 

Many  acts  are  forbidden  in  primitive  society  lest  they  might,  on  the  prin- 
ciples of  homoeopathic  magic,  entail  undesirable  effects.  Certain  foods  are 
also  forbidden  for  the  same  reason. 

A  magical  sympathy  is  often  supposed  to  exist  between  people  at  a  distance, 
such  that  the  actions  of  the  one  directly  affect  the  other.  Thus  rules  of 
conduct  are  often  imposed  upon  wives  during  their  husbands'  absence  in 
hunting,  fishing,  or  fighting.  Infidelity  to  an  absent  spouse  is  particularly 
dreaded  and  avoided. 

Homoeopathic  magic  is  often  employed  at  sowing  and  planting  to  promote 
the  growth  and  quality  of  the  crops. 

A  fruitful  branch  of  magic  consists  in  the  employment  of  the  relics  of  the 
dead.  By  sympathetic  magic  birth  and  death  are  often  associated  with 
the  flow  and  ebb  of  the  tides. 

Contagious  magic  is  founded  on  the  belief  that  things  once  conjoined 
remain,  even  after  being  disjoined,  in  sympathetic  relation.  Contagious 
magic  is  supposed  to  exist  between  a  man  and  his  bodily  relics,  especially  his 
hair,  nails,  navel-string,  and  afterbirth.  This  has  led  to  many  observances 
throughout  the  world.  Clothing  and  bodily  impressions  are  often  employed 

in  contagious  magic. 




THE  WEATHER     .....      Pp,  68-100 

An  important  function  of  magic  is  to  control  the  weather,  ami  w«Mthrr- 
makers  sometimes  rise  to  positions  of  power  and  influence.  Magicians 
attempt  to  cause  rain  to  fall  or  to  cease,  sometimes  by  imitative  magic  and 
sometimes  by  methods  that  are  partly  magical,  partly  religious.  Primitive 
man  also  sometimes  attempts  to  control  the  course  of  the  gun,  ami  to  raw 
the  wind  to  blow  or  be  still  at  his  bidding.  A  common  practice  is  "  whistling 
for  a  wind.1' 

CHAPTER  III.—  MAGICIANS  AS  KINGS         .    Pp.  101-113 

Gerontocracy—  &  state  of  society  in  which  authority  fa  held  by  the  old  nu*n  of 
the  tribe  —  prevalent  among  Australian  aborigines  and  found  elsewhere. 

In  Africa  the  political  influence  of  the  magician  is  great,  but  the  rainmaker 
who  fails  to  bring  rain  is  often  punished, 

In  England  sovereigns  have  been  regarded  as  a  sort  of  divinity.  A  relit* 
of  this  belief  persisted  in  England  and  France  in  the  notion  that  they  rm»M, 
by  their  touch,  cure  scrofula,  hence  called  "  The  King's  Evil*' 

CHAPTER  IV.—  INCARNATE  HUMAN  GODS  .     Pp,  114-123 

Chiefs  regarded  as  incarnate  human  gods  abounded  among  the  P 
of  the  Pacific  Islands.    Possession  by  divine  spirit  wa*  not  always  per 
manent,  but  was  often  temporary.    In  Africa  also  chiefi  mad  king!  have 
often  claimed  to  be  deities,  and  Christian  England  has  not  lacked  protendm 
to  divinity. 


NATURE       .....       .    Pp.  124*125 

Sometimes  the  magician  claims  to  control  only  a  particular  department  of 
nature,  of  which  he  proclaims  himself  king,  such  as  the  2Ung-of.the-W*t«r 
in  Nigeria. 

CHAPTER  VI.—  THE  WORSHIP  OF  TREES    .    Pp.  126-149 

The  worship  of  to«  is  widespread  in  Sudan,  and  is  also  found  in  Nigeria, 
India,  and  Celebes.  The  belief  that  trees  are  inhabited  by  ipuifc  h*t  led 
tocermonies  of  propitiation  at  felling  tree,  in  Africa,  Burma,  lado-China, 
and  Indones*.  Agam,  many  primitive  communities  have  sacred  prove. 
which  they  respect,  especially  in  Africa.  The  tree-spirit*  are  often  believed 
to  possess  powers  of  fecundity,  and  are  accordingly  entreated 



IN  EUROPE   .        .        .      • .        .        .    Pp.  150-152 

Relics  of  the  worship  of  trees  have  survived  in  the  popular  observances  of 
Europe,  for  example  in  the  May  Day  customs  of  Wales. 


SEXES  ON  VEGETATION         .        .        .Pp.  153-156 

The  intercourse  of  the  human  sexes  is  believed  to  have  a  potent  influence 
in  stimulating  vegetation,  and  for  this  reason  many  restrictions  are  often 
imposed  at  the  time  of  sowing  and  planting.  Twins  and  parents  of  twins 
are  sometimes  credited  with  a  power  of  fertilizing  at  such  times.  Sexual 
offences,  especially  incest,  are  believed  to  blight  the  crops. 

CHAPTER  IX. — THE  SACRED  MARRIAGE     .    Pp.  157-165 

The  mimic  marriage  of  the  king  and  queen  of  May  was  probably  intended 
originally  to  promote  the  growth  of  plant-life  in  spring  by  the  dramatic 
representation  of  a  bridal :  examples  from  Morocco,  the  Punjab,  and 

In  Africa  women  were  often  wedded  to  spirits  or  deities.  Stories  like  that 
of  Andromeda,  in  which  the  heroine  is  exposed  to  a  sea-monster,  may 
reflect  an  earlier  custom  of  sacrificing  virgins  to  water-spirits  to  be  their 
wives  :  examples  from  Africa jand  China. 

Water-spirits  are  often  thought  to  bestow  offspring  on  childless  women, 
especially  in  Africa. 

CHAPTER  X.— THE  KING'S  FIRE         .        .    Pp.  166-168 

With  the  Vestals  of  Ancient  Rome,  who  maintained  the  fire  on  the  royal 
hearth,  may  be  compared  the  African  Vestals  of  Uganda,  who  maintain 
perpetual  fires  in  the  temple. 

CHAPTER  XL — THE  FIRE-DRILL        .        *    Pp.  169-173 

The  making  of  fire  by  the  fire-drill,  that  is,  by  revolving  a  pointed  stick 
in  a  grooved  stick,  seems  to  be  the  most  widely  diffused  method  among 
primitive  savages :  it  is  found  almost  universally.  Many  savages  see  in 
the  working  of  the  fire-drill  an  analogy  to  the  intercourse  of  the  sexes. 


VESTA Pp.  174-*  76 

Ancestral  spirits  are  supposed  to  haunt  their  old  domestic  hearths,  and  for 
this  reason  a  fire  has  sometimes  to  b*-  continually  maintained  for  the  comfort 
of  the  family  ghosts. 


In  the  kindling  of  new  fire  by  the  fire-drill  both  srx<?$  sometimes  assist, 
In  Assam  the  ceremony  is  performed  by  unmarried  hoys,  In  Germany  a 
widespread  belief  connects  a  person's  chastity  with  his  Ability  to  blow  up 
a  dying  flame. 


PETUAL FIRES       .        ,        .        .        ,     Pp,  177-181 

The  custom  of  maintaining  perpetual  fires  may  have  originated  in  the 
difficulty  of  kindling  new  fire  by  the  laborious  enrly  method.  Thv  rustom 
is  prevalent  in  Africa.  The  Banyoro  of  Africa  extinguish  all  tires  on  the 
death  of  a  king,  and  the  Birhors  of  India  after  a  funeral  . 


KINGDOM  IN  ANCIENT  LATIUM      .        ,     Pp.  182-185 

In  the  old  Latin  kingship  the  crown  seems  to  have  desremhul  to  the  man 
who  married  one  of  the  king's  daughters,  kinship  being  traced  in  the  feiiule 
line.  The  same  rule  of  descent  is  found  elsewhere,  us  m  Burma  and  Assam. 
Instances  occur  in  Africa  of  the  hereditary  and  elective  priudpU-s  lvm$ 


PARILIA       ......    Pp.  186-187 

In  Hungary  cattle  are  first  driven  out  to  pasture,  with  special  observances, 
on  St.  George's  Day,  April  23,  a  date  that  nearly  coincide*  with  the  ancient 
Parilia,  April  21. 

CHAPTER  XVI.-THE  OAK        .        .        ,    Pp.  ,RJ».,OI 

Prehistoric  flint  weapons  are  often  regarded  as  thunderbolts  m  Europe. 
Africa,  and  India. 

CHAPTER  XVH.-DUNUS  AND  DIANA       .    Pp.  ,92.I93 



TABOOS        .  „ 

.....    Pp.  194-201 


CHAPTER  XIX. — THE  PERILS  OF  THE  SOUL    Pp.  202-226 

The  soul  is  commonly  identified  with  a  person's  likeness  :  hence  it  is  feared 
that  a  person  may  be  injured  through  his  reflection  or  shadow.  Sometimes 
a  sick  person  is  bound,  to  prevent  his  soul  from  leaving  him,  and  again 
magicians  often  undertake  to  recover  and  restore  the  soul  of  a  sick  person 
when  it  is  believed  to  have  already  left  him.  Examples  from  Indonesia, 
Burma,  Assam,  China,  Africa,  and  North  America. 

Primitive  people  have  often  been  in  the  habit  of  laying  the  foundations  of 
buildings  on  the  bodies  of  human  victims,  that  their  souls  may  guard  or 
strengthen  the  foundations. 

CHAPTER  XX.— TABOOED  ACTS          ,        .    Pp.  227-228 

Savages  commonly  fear  the  spirits  of  any  unknown  country  they  enter,  and 
observe  ceremonies  on  crossing  the  boundary  :  so  with  the  Maoris  of  New 
Zealand,  Savages  also  fear  to  be  injured  by  magic  through  relics  of  their 
food  :  examples  of  such  belief  in  Australia  and  New  Guinea. 

CHAPTER  XXI, — TABOOED  PERSONS  .        *    Pp.  229-256 

Kings  and  chiefs  in  primitive  society  are  subject  to  many  taboos.  Mourners, 
menstruous  and  pregnant  women,  and  women  after  childbirth,  warriors  in 
time  of  war,  warriors  who  have  slain  a  foe,  and  hunters  and  fishers  are 
subject  to  many  taboos  in  different  parts  of  the  world. 

CHAPTER  XXII.— TABOOED  THINGS  .        „    Pp.  257-270 

Things  as  well  as  persons  are  subject  to  the  mysterious  influence  of  taboo, 
Thus  iron  is  widely  avoided,  and  sharp-edged  weapons,  and  blood.  The 
human  head  is  often  regarded  as  particularly  tabooed  or  sacred,  and  the 
hair,  as  part  of  the  head.  The  disposal  of  cut  hair  and  nails  is  often  an 
anxious  matter  to  primitive  man,  since  these  may  be  used  in  magic  to  his 
hurt.  So,  too,  with  the  saliva.  Knots  are  widely  regarded  as  magically 
potent,  and  are  therefore  sometimes  tabooed.  A  knot  on  the  garment  of 
a  woman  in  childbed  is  believed  to  retard  delivery,  hence  these  should  be 
untied.  Knots  may  be  turned  to  good  account,  to  oppose  the  inroad  of 

CHAPTER  XXIIL— TABOOED  WORDS  «,        .    Pp.  271-289 

Words,  especially  names,  are  commonly  tabooed,  and  many  primitive 
people  are  unwilling  to  utter  their  own  names.  In  some  tribes  parents  are 
named  after  their  children.  This  common  avoidance  of  one's  name  seems 
to  be  based  on  a  fear  that  evil  might  be  worked  on  a  person  by  a  sorcerer 


through  his  name.  Similarly  primitive  people  are  often  forbidden  to 
mention  or  address  their  relatives  by  marriage  by  name.  The  names  of  the 
dead  are  also  frequently  forbidden  to  the  living, 

A  common  taboo  prohibits  the  telling  of  fairy  stories  at  certain  times  and 
seasons,  particularly  during  the  day. 

Sometimes  the  names  of  sacred  chiefs  and  gods  are  tabooed.  The  same 
interdiction  is  frequently  laid  on  the  names  of  common  objects  of  daily 
life,  especially  the  names  of  objects  for  which  men  are  searching,  or  of 
animals  for  which  they  are  hunting.  Thus  in  Maky,  Assam,  and  Africa. 
A  common  taboo  in  Africa  forbids  people  to  step  over  things  or  persons 
lying  on  the  ground,  from  a  fear  that  this  will  affect  the  thing  or  person 
stepped  over. 


DIVINE  KING Pp.  290-317 

The  custom  of  killing  a  divine  king  upon  any  serious  failure  of  his  powers 
is  very  common  in  Africa:  it  was  practised  by  the  Jukvm  of  Nigeria,  the 
Fung  of  the  Upper  Nile,  the  Mburn  of  the  Cameroons,  and  many  other 
tribes.  These  examples  suggest  an  explanation  of  the  priest  howl  at  Ncmi. 

Primitive  peoples  often  entertain  superstitions  about  meteors,  and  connect 
their  occurrence  with  certain  events,  such  as  a  death. 

The  great  games  of  ancient  Greece  were,  according  to  tradition,  original!/ 
funeral  games.  Such  funeral  games  occur  in  Samoa  and  among  the 
Indians  of  Alaska, 

In  ancient  Babylon  the  king's  tenure  of  office  seem*  to  have  been  Knitted 
to  a  single  year,  at  the  end  of  which  he  was  put  to  death.  'Hie  Banyuro 
of  Uganda  and  Ibibio  of  Nigeria  retain  traces  of  a  similar  custom, 

CHAPTER  XXV.— THE  FAIRY  WIFE   .        .    Pp.  318-323 

Stories  of  a  fairy  wife  or  husband,  of  the  type  known  as  the  Swan  Maiden, 
or  Beauty  and  the  Beast,  or  Cupid  and  Psyche,  are  widely  dtfifuied  :  ex* 
amples  from  Malay,  New  Hebrides,  New  Zealand,  New  Guinea,  and 

CHAPTER  XXVL— TEMPORARY  KINGS        „    Pp.  324-330 

The  custom  has  existed  among  some  people  of  appointing  a  temporary  or 
mock  king,  either  annually  or  at  the  beginning  of  the  real  king's  reign. 
Examples  from  Uganda,  Sudan,  Nigeria  in  Africa,  and  Bastar  ia  India, 


SON '  Pp>  33*-333 

An  African  chief  is  reported  to  have  sacrificed  his  first-born  son  to  feriag  about 
his  own  recovery.  More  recently  animals  have  been  substituted  for  men 



in  such  sacrifices.  The  custom  of  killing  or  sacrificing  first-born  children 
has  been  practised  in  Australia,  the  Solomon  Islands,  in  Indo-China,  in 
India,  and  in  Africa. 

SPIRIT  Pp.  334-335 

Images  are  used  as  substitutes  for  human  sacrifices  in  Bombay. 

In  Siberia,  as  in  Europe,  the  transition  from  winter  to  summer  is  celebrated 
by  a  dramatic  contest. 


RITE Pp.  336-337 

Swinging  is  practised  as  a  magical  rite  as  a  cure  for  serious  sicknesses  by 
the  Milanos  of  Sarawak  in  Borneo. 

CHAPTER  XXX,— THE  MYTH  OF  ADONIS  .    Pp.  338-339 

The  primitive  mind  is  untrammelled  by  logic :  thus  the  African  native  and 
the  Chinese  peasant  are  able  to  believe  both  of  two  contradictory  statements. 

ING      ...*...    Pp.  340-341 

The  custom  of  consecrating  by  anointing  is  observed  in  various  parts  of 
Polynesia  and  in  Bombay. 


DEAD „    Pp.  342-346 

Sacred  women  who  are  regarded  as  wivps  of  a  god  in  Nigeria  and  fakirs  in 
India  are  believed  to  have  miraculous  powers  of  gaining  favours  from 

The  belief  that  the  human  dead  come  to  life  in  the  form  of  snakes  is  parti- 
cularly common  in  Africa.  So,  too,  is  a  belief  that  dead  infants  may  enter 
once  more  into  the  wombs  of  their  mothers  and  be  bom  again.  Hence 
infants  are  buried  at  places  to  which  their  mothers  often  go. 

Among  the  Australian  aborigines  conception  is  often  attributed  to  the 
entrance  into  the  woman  of  an  ancestral  spirit,  and  is  regarded  as  in- 
dependent of  sexual  intercourse.  A  precisely  similar  belief  has  been  dis- 
covered among  the  Trobriand  Islanders,  and  in  the  Merinas  of  Madagascar. 


Worship  is  paid  to  inflammable  gases  in  India  and  Celebes,  to  earthquakes 
in  Africa,  and  to  *  volcano  in  the  Friendly  Islands* 



The  ancient  gardens  of  Adonis  have  their  analogy  in  nuny  tribes  of  modern 

,  4 

CHAPTER  XXXV.— THE  RITUAL  OF  Arns     Pp.  353-354 

The  self-mutilation  of  male  worshippers  at  the  vernal  iestiv&i  of  Cybele 
and  Attis  finds  an  analogy  in  modern  Nigeria* 


GOD P.  355 

The  Manggerai  of  West  Flores,  in  the  Indian  Arehijjehigo,  personify  the 
Sky  and  Earth  as  husband  and  wife. 

CHAPTER  XXXVIL— ON  HEAD-HUNTINC  .     Pp.  356-357 

Among  the  motives  alleged  by  head-hunters  for  the  practice  of  taking 
heads  is  a  belief  that  they  thereby  promote  the  fertility  of  the  rurth  arid 
the  growth  of  the  crops.  Thus  in  Assam,  Formosa,  Nigeria,  and  South 

CHAPTER  XXXVIIL— THE  TEARS  OF  Isis      Pp.  358-359 

In  modern  Egypt  a  night  about  midsummer  is  called  the  Night  of  the  Drop, 
because  at  that  time  a  certain  marvellous  drop  is  beliewd  to  initiate  tta 
swelling  of  the  Nile. 

CHAPTER  XXXIX  -THE  STAR  OF  Isis     .  P.  360 

The  Bafeoti  of  Loango,  like  the  ancient  Egyptian.,  employ  «he  star  Siriu* 
to  correct  their  calendar  of  twelve  lunar  monda. 

CHASTER  XL.— FEASTS  OF  ALL  SOULS      .    Pp.  361-364 

The  custom  of  holding  an  annual  feast  to  welcome  the  returning  souls  «f 

Ae  dead  is  observed  in  the  Trobriand  Islands,  in  Chin.,  in  Tibet,  tad  m 


GoDDESSES P.  365 

£ S^™f  pU7,8^°Tcwf ' fa  which m«  «e  ruled  by  women, »  reported 
to  exist  among  the  Valovale  of  South  Africa, 



WITH  SISTERS Pp,  366-367 

The  ancient  Egyptian  custom  of  marrying  brothers  with  sisters  has  been 
practised  in  the  royal  family  of  the  Banyoro  in  Uganda. 


PARENTS  IN  RITUAL  .     pp.  368-370 

Children  whose  parents  are  both  alive  are  commonly  used  in  ritual,  probably 
from  a  belief  that  such  children  have  a  larger  share  of  vitality  than  usual. 


FICE     ••-....     Pp.  371-372 

Blind  victims  are  often  used  in  sacrifice  for  the  purpose  of  blinding,  by 
sympathetic  magic,  the  eyes  of  enemies.  On  the  same  principle  in  perform- 
ing a  magical  rite  a  person  will  sometimes  clpse  his  eyes  to  blind  the  animals 
or  vermin  against  which  his  incantations  are  directed. 


The  Mawhoos  or  Mahoos  of  Tahiti  are  men  who  dress  and  act  as  women. 


FANS P<374 

The  custom  of  placing  a  child  in  a  winnowing-fan  is  widespread. 



Games  are  often  played  by  primitive  peoples  to  promote  the  growth  of 
their  crops  :  thus  in  India  and  New  Guinea.  The  game  of  cats'  cradles  is 
of  very  common  occurrence  for  this  purpose. 

TIVE AGRICULTURE       .        .        .        „     pp-  379-384 

Among  primitive  people  who  practise  agriculture  the  men  commonly  clear 
the  land,  while  the  actual  cultivation  falls  to  the  lot  of  the  women  :  so  in 
Africa,  New  Guinea,  and  New  Britain. 



The  custom  of  "  cutting  the  caheht  M  was  observed  at  Antrim  ia  1913. 
The  Oraonft  of  India  have  a  similar  custom  at  the  rice-h«&rvcst,  md  the 
"corn-baby  w  is  a  general  institution  among  the  Hinilooi  of  India  and  the 
Palaungs  of  Burma, 

The  "  Barley  Bride  "  as  practised  by  the  Berbers  of  Morocco  &nd  the  Malay 
ritual  of  the  "  rice-baby/' 


CROPS          ».*«.»  P.  39* 

Men  and  women  offered  as  sacrifices  in  Nigeria  at  planting  and  harvtft, 


ANIMAL       ,*.*»*  P.  392 

In  the  Orkney  Islands  the  corn-spirit  was  regarded  m  a  dog, 


AGRICULTURE  *    Pp.  393-397 

The  constellation  of  the  PJeiade*  fa  regarded  as  important  by  tnaay  primi- 
tive races,  especially  for  determining  the  beginning  of  the  year  mad  the 
seasons  of  planting  and  sowing,  Example*  from  Polynesia,  Indonesia, 
Africa,  and  South  America. 



Cohabitation  is  sometimes  required  as  a  form  of  purification  in  ?im*  of 


Cakes  in  human  form  are  baked  annually  at  Frasoiti*  new  Afida. 


DEMONS       .**.**    Pp.  400-401 

The  deception  of  demon*  is  sometimes  attempted  by  uowck  burial**  at 
among  the  Shans  of  Burma  and  the  Tomdyas  of  Celebes 


FRUITS         ......    Pp.  402-407 

At  harvest  the  first-fruits  are  commonly  offered  to  the  gods,  the  spirits  of 
the  dead,  or  kings  and  chiefs,  before  the  people  are  allowed  to  eat  of  the 
new  crop. 


A  FLESH  DIET Pp.  408-409 

The  savage  commonly  believes  that  by  eating  the  flesh  of  a  man  or  an 
animal  he  acquires  the  qualities  and  abilities  of  the  animal  or  man, 


WILD  ANIMALS  BY  HUNTERS         .        ,    Pp.  410-416 

Believing  that  animals  have  souls  like  men,  the  savage  commonly  pro- 
pitiates the  animals  and  fish  which  he  kills  and  eats,  by  prayer  and  sacrifice. 
The  Berbers  of  Morocco  resort  to  various  magical  and  religious  rites  to 
protect  their  crops  from  the  inroads  of  sparrows, 


HUMAN  SOULS  INTO  ANIMALS       .        .    Pp.  417-418 

The  savage  often  believes  that  the  souls  of  his  dead  kinsfolk  have  passed 
into  animals,  which  he  accordingly  treats  with  respect. 


Primitive  man  often  believes  he  can  rid  himself  of  all  his  troubles  by 
magically  transferring  them  to  other  persons,  or  even  to  inanimate  objects* 
The  belief  has  led  to  the  sacrifice  of  animals  and  human  victims  as  scape- 


DEMONS Pp.  425-426 

Savage  man  believes  himself  to  be  encompassed  on  every  side  by  spiritual 
agencies,  to  which  he  attributes  all  the  evils  that  befall  him.  Thus  with 
the  Birhors  of  India  and  the  Kiwai  of  New  Guinea,  and  the  natives  of  Yap 
in  the  Pacific. 


xviii  CONTENTS 


OF  EVILS      .  .     Pp.  427-432 

Sometimes  primitive  man  attempts  to  rid  the  whole  community  of  their 
troubles  by  a  general  and  public  expulsion  of  evils,  either  occasionally  or 

In  this  connection  the  annual  appearance  of  a  certain  sea-slug  in  the  Pacific 
is  of  interest. 

CHAPTER  LXIIL—  PUBLIC  SCAPEGOATS      *    Pp.  433-439 

Sometimes  the  evils  publicly  expelled  are  believed  to  he  cmUxlitd  in  a 
material  form,  such  as  a  door,  an  animal,  or  a  human  being.  Sickness  is 
often  thought  to  be  driven  out  in  this  way* 


KINDRED  FESTIVALS      ....     pp.  440-442 

A  festival  similar  to  the  Roman  Saturnalia  i$  observed  by  the  B«$e«u  of 
Mount  Kenya. 

Intercalary  periods  are  commonly  regarded  as  unlucky. 
Observation  of  the  Buddhist  Lent. 

CHAPTER  LXV.—  NOT  TO  TOUCH  THE  EARTH     Pp.  443-446 

Certain  sacred  or  tabooed  persons  and  objects  are  not  allowed  to  touch 
the  ground,  for  example  kings,  chiefs,  and  holy  men,  brides  and  bride- 
grooms,  new-bom  children,  sacred  books,  and  so  on* 

CHAPTER  LXVL—  NOT  TO  SEE  THE  SUN   .  P.  447 

Certain  sacred  or  tabooed  persons,  especially  women  after  chiidbcii,  **r« 
not  permitted  to  see  the  sun. 


AT  PUBERTY         .....     Pp<  448-450 

Girls  are  commonly  secluded  at  puberty,  a  custom  observed  by  the  Bftkongo 
of  the  Lower  Congo,  the  Andaman  Islanders,  the  Gilbert  *ttd  MunluJl 
Islanders  of  the  Pacific,  and  the  Kakadu  tribe  of  Austnlm. 



OF  EUROPE Pp.  451-453 

The  ancient  fire  festivals  of  Europe,  in  modified  forms,  are  observed  in 
North  Friesland,  in  Savoy,  and  among  the  mountain  Jews  of  the  Caucasus. 

CHAPTER  LX IX. —WERE- WOLVES       .        .    Pp.  454-456 

The  belief  in  were-wolves  is  still  prevalent  in  the  Sudan  and  the  Lower 

CHAPTER  LXX.— THE  FIRE- WALK     .        .    Pp.  457-458 

The  religious  rite  of  walking  through  fire  is  still  observed  in  India  and 
Africa,  and  is  reported  in  a  Maori  legend. 


MIDSUMMER  EVE          ....  P.  459 

The  belief  in  such  magic  flowers  remains  in  Savoy,  and  finds  a  curious 
parallel  in  the  Sudan. 


IN  FOLK-TALES Pp.  460-462 

A  popular  Indian  story  tells  of  a  magician  who  concealed  his  soul  in  a 


IN  FOLK-CUSTOM          .        .        .        .Pp.  463-477 

Such  a,  story  reflects  a  belief  in  the  ability  to  deposit  the  soul  externally, 
a  custom  commonly  practised  in  Northern  Rhodesia,  in  Nigeria,  and  else- 
where. The  external  objects  with  which  human  lives  are  believed  to  be 
bound  up  are  often  plants  or  trees. 

A  primitive  custom  exists  of  passing  sick  people  through  a  cleft  tree  as  a 
mode  of  cure.  Again,  some  tribes  pass  through  a  deft  tree  or  stick  or 
other  narrow  opening  after  a  death,  no  doubt  in  order  to  evade  the  dead 
man's  ghost. 

Many  primitive  people  believe  that  their  lives  are  so  bound  up  with  those 
of  animals  that  when  the  animal  dies  the  man  dies.  This  belief  common 
in  Africa. 

According  to  some  primitive  people,  every  human  being  possesses  several 



AND  RESURRECTION      .  Pp.  478-479 

At  certain  initiations  the  candidate  must  undergo  n  rife  of  mimic  death 
and  resurrection,  as  in  Nigeria. 

CHAPTER  LXXV-— THE  MISTLETOE  .        «  P.  480 

The  Gallas  of  East  Africa  say  that  the  mistletoe  is  grafted  cm  %  trer  *s  the 
soul  is  grafted  on  the  body,  and  venerate  it. 

INDEX       ,...*«,    Pp,  481-494 



IN  The  Golden  Bough  I  have  attempted  to  indicate  the  great 
part  which  a  belief  in  magic  has  played  in  the  early  history  of 
human    thought.     The    belief  rests   on   two   main   logical 
fallacies  ;   first,  that  by  imitating  the  desired  effect  you  can 
produce  it,  and  second,  that  things  which  have  once  been  in 
contact  can  influence  each  other  when  they  are  separated,  just 
as  if  the  contact  still  persisted.     The  rnagic  based  on  the  first 
of  these  fallacies  may  be  called  Homoeopathic  or  Imitative 
Magic,  and  the  magic  based  on  the  second  of  these  principles 
may  be  called  Contagious  Magic.     If  this  analysis  is  correct 
it  follows  that  a  belief  in  magic  is  wholly  fallacious.     All  its 
pretensions  are  false,  and  only  deceive  the  dupes  who  trust  in 
them.     Yet  the  belief  in  magic  has  been,  and  still  is,  enormous 
throughout  the  world,  though  it  has  always  been  most  pre- 
valent among  backward  or  primitive  peoples.    The  magician 
believes  that  by  his  acts  and  words,  his  magical  rites  and 
incantations,  he  can  control  the  forces  of  Nature  for  his  own 
benefit  and  the  injury  of  his  enemies.    The  effects  of  this 
belief   have    been    disastrous.     Among    primitive    peoples, 
especially  in  Africa,  natural  death  has  commonly,  or  even 
regularly,  been  ascribed  to  the  effects  of  maleficent  magic,  and 
the  death  has  been  usually  avenged  by  the  murder  of  the 
imaginary  but  really  innocent  culprit.1 

But  the  disastrous  effects  of  a  belief  in  magic  are  not 
confined  to  the  destruction  of  human  lives.  Its  baleful 
influence  has  extended  to  the  economic  sphere*  Speaking  of 
the  Kafir  tribes  of  South  Africa,  a  good  authority  tells  us  that 

*  J.  G,  Frazer,  Belief  in  Immortality  (London!  1913)1  i.  33 




"  so  strong  is  this  fear  of  being  accused  of  getting  rich  by 
magic  that  many  people  purposely  refrain  from  undue  cultiva- 
tion of  their  land,  lest  others  should  accuse  them  of  using 
magical  practices  to  increase  the  fertility  of  the  soil."  * 

Among  the  Bangala,  a  tribe  of  the  Upper  Congo  River, 
the  disastrous  influence  of  a  belief  in  magic  or  witchcraft  has 
been  admirably  recorded  by  an  experienced  missionary  in  the 
following  striking  passage.    "  In  judging  the  conservatism  of 
natives  and  the  way  in  which  they  have  from  generation  to 
generation  simply  followed  in  the  footsteps  of  their  pre- 
decessors one  must  not  forget  that  they  have  been,  and  many 
tribes  still  are,  bound  fast  by  witchcraft,  fetishism,  and  super- 
stition, and  any  tendency  to  burst  these  more  than  iron  bands 
has  been  suppressed  by  fear  of  being  charged  with  witchcraft. 
Some  twenty-five  years  ago  I  knew  a  blacksmith  who  made  a 
good  imitation,  from  old  hoop  iron,  of  a  trade  knife,  and  when 
the  king  heard  of  it  he  thought  he  was  too  clever  and  threatened 
him  with  a  charge  of  witchcraft  if  he  made  any  more  like  it.^  If 
the  man  who  made  our  locomotives  had  lived  here,  in  Africa, 
and  had  given  play  to  his  inventive  genius,  he  would  not  have 
been  honoured,  but  killed  as  a  witch.    The  native  had  a  deep- 
rooted  feeling  that  anything  out  of  the  ordinary  was  due  to 
witchcraft  and  treated  it  as  such,     Some  years  ago  I  knew  a 
native  medicine  woman  who  was  successful  in  treating  certain 
native  diseases,  and  as  she  became  wealthy,  the  natives  accused 
her  of  giving  the  sickness  by  witchcraft  in  order  to  cure  it  and 
be  paid  for  it ;  for  they  said,  *  How  can  she  cure  it  so  easily 
unless  she  first  gave  it  to  them  ? '     She  had  to  abandon  her 
practice  or  she  would  have  been  killed  as  a  witch, 

"  The  introduction  of  a  new  article  of  trade  has  always 

brought  on  the  introducer  a  charge  of  witchcraft ;  and  there 

is  a  legend,  that  the  man  who  discovered  the  way  to  tap  palm 

trees  for  palm  wine  was  charged  as  a  witch  and  paid  the 

penalty  with  his  life.    That,  however,  did  not  stop  the  trade 

in  palm  wine.    Through  this  fear  of  being  charged  with 

witchcraft,  the  natives  would  never  of  themselves  have  made 

any  progress  in  art,  science,  or  civilization.    This  fear  was  so 

real  and  so  widespread  that  It  stultified  and  killed  every 

tendency  to  change  and  progress.    The  reasons  which  have 

1  Dudley  Kidd,  The  Essential  Kafir  (London,  1904}!  p.  147, 


caused  a  lack  of  material  progress  are  the  same  that  held 
them  fast  to  their  religious  beliefs  until  the  white  man  arrived 
with  his  tools,  his  skill,  his  medicine,  and  his  religious  teach- 
ing. In  their  old  state  they  maintained  strict  conservatism, 
which,  however,  was  quickly  broken  down  by  contact  with 
the  white  man,  whom  they  are  always  ready  to  acknowledge 
their  superior  in  all  things  and  worthy  of  imitation  wherever 
this  is  possible.'11 

The  rooted  suspicion  of  magic  or  witchcraft  with  which 
these  African  blacks  regard  every  material  improvement  in 
the  arts  and  crafts  has  had  a  close  parallel  in  ancient  Rome. 
Once  on  a  time  a  certain  C.  Furius  Cresimus,  whose  small 
farm  produced  heavier  crops  than  the  largest  farms  in  the 
neighbourhood,  was  shrewdly  suspected  of  drawing  away 
the  corn  from  other  people's  fields  by  enchantment.  Being 
brought  before  the  public  assembly  at  Rome  to  stand  his  trial 
on  this  charge,  he  produced  in  the  sight  of  the  people  his 
ploughshares,  his  mattocks,  his  sturdy  hinds,  his  sleek  oxen, 
and  pointing  to  them  said,  "  These  are  my  enchantments, 
gentlemen.  I  regret  that  it  is  not  in  my  power  to  lay  before 
you  my  toils  and  moils  and  sweatings."  He  was  unanimously 

Perhaps  the  most  familiar  example  of  homoeopathic  or 
imitative  magic  is  the  practice  of  making  a  magical  image  of 
the  person  whom  the  magician  desires  to  injure.  By  cutting, 
stabbing,  or  otherwise  injuring  the  image  he  believes  that  he 
inflicts  a  corresponding  injury  upon  his  enemy  whom  the 
image  represents ;  by  burning  or  otherwise  destroying  the 
image  he  imagines  that  he  kills  his  foe.  Of  this  practice  I 
have  cited  many  examples  in  The  Golden  Bough?  Here  I 
will  give  a  few  additional  instances.  Thus,  for  example,  ih 
Morocco  magical  images  made  for  this  maleficent  purpose  are 
either  of  paper  or  of  more  substantial  material.  Thus  if  the 
magician  wishes  to  cause  his  enemy  to  suffer  from  headache 
he  will  fashion  an  image  of  him  in  dough  and  pierce  the  head 
of  it  with  a  nail  before  putting  the  image  in  the  oven.  But 

1  J.  H.  Weeks,  "  Anthropological  (1909),  p.  108. 

Notes  on  the  Bangala  of  the  Upper  f  Pliny,  Nat.  Histt>  xviii.  41  sgq. 

Congo  River,"  in  Journal  of  the  Royal  *  The  Magic  Art  and  the  Evolution 

Anthropological     Institute,      xxxix.  of  Kings,  \.  55  sqqt 

4  MAGIC  CHA?. 

before  doing  so  he  should  insert  a  scrap  of  his  victim's  gar- 
ment in  the  image.  If  he  wishes  his  victim  to  break  his  arm 
or  his  leg  he  wrenches  the  corresponding  limb  from  the  image. 
If  he  desires  to  make  his  victim  suffer  perpetual  pain  he  heats 
a  metal  effigy  of  him  with  a  hammer  on  the  anvil  for  a  whole 
day,  saying,  "As  this  hammer  does  not  cease  to  strike  the 
anvil  for  a  whole  day,  so  may  misfortune  pursue  So-and-so  his 
whole  life  long."  Paper  images  are  similarly  treated  for  a 
similar  purpose  by  piercing  them  with  nails  or  thorns,  or  by 
tearing  off  a  limb.  In  order  that  the  victim  may  suffer 
throughout  his  whole  life,  the  magician  finally  buries  the 
image  in  a  graveyard,  a  slaughter-house,  a  furnace,  or  a  well 
If  the  effigy  is  buried  in  the  bed  of  a  river  the  victim  will  be 
continually  shivering  from  cold  :  if  it  is  buried  in  a  furnace 
he  will  constantly  be  hot  with  anger.  If  the  image  has  been 
simply  buried  in  the  earth,  without  being  broken  or  pierced, 
the  victim  will  simply  waste  away.  When  the  image  is  a 
statuette  it  suffices  that  it  should  be  made  by  a  sorcerer  who 
recites  the  appropriate  incantation  ;  but  if  the  image  is  of 
paper  it  should  be  made  by  a  scribe  who  writes  cabalistic 
phrases, on  the  body  and  limbs,1 

Among  the  Ibo  and  Ijaw  of  Southern  Nigeria  "a  mud,  or 
wax  image  is  modelled  in  the  rough  semblance  of  the  man 
whom  it  is  desired  to  injure,  and  while  incantations  are  made, 
this  is  damaged  by  being  pierced  with  a  nail  or  spear  or  it  is 
decapitated/1 2  In  Loango  the  magician  fashions  an  image 
of  his  victim  out  of  a  root,  pith,  or  wood,  and  with  the  appro* 
priate  imprecations  throws  it  into  a  river  or  the  sea  or  the 
wilderness,  holds  it  in  the  fire,  or  hangs  it  in  the  smoke.  Just 
as  the  image  rots,  shrivels  up,  or  is  reduced  to  ashes,  the  victim 
suffers  a  corresponding  fate,3 

Among  the  Bangala  of  the  Upper  Congo  if  a  man  loses  a 
relative  or  has  an  enemy  he  goes  to  a  magician  (nganga  ya 
hkenge\  who  calls  up  in  his  saucepan  of  water  the  spirits  of 
various  people  whose  images  are  visible  in  the  water,  and  the 
cheat,  who  sits  by  watching  the  water,  allows  one  reflection 

~    Sdfr  .« *"**  m        I P**  ******  *****   ****• 


,  1926),  ii.  184,        «.  a  ™  3377^  {Muttgwt,  1909), 


after  another  to  pass  until  the  reflection  of  his  enemy  is  shown 
in  the  water.  That  reflection  or  elimo  (soul)  he  pierces  at 
once  with  a  palm  splinter  as  a  substitute  for  a  spear,  and  the 
one  who  owns  that  soul  will  sicken  and  die.  Sometimes  a 
piece  of  wood  or  plantain  stalk  was  roughly  carved  to  repre- 
sent the  enemy,  and  wherever  it  was  stuck  or  cut  the  enemy 
would  feel  intense  pain  in  the  corresponding  part  of  his  body, 
and  to  stick  it  in  a  vital  part  meant  death.1 

Among  the  Bakongo  of  the  Lower  Congo  "  the  most 
powerful  and  most  feared  of  all  the  fetishes  in  the  catalogue 
belongs  to  the  medicine-man  who  has  the  mbanzangola  fetish. 
It  is  a  wooden  image,  and  is  always  retained  in  the  possession 
of  the  witch-doctor,  as  it  is  too  powerful  to  pass  into  the  hands 
of  a  layman.  A  private  person  can  buy  other  fetishes,  but  no 
private  individual  can  own  a  mbanzangola  fetish.  If  a  person 
desires  to  cause  pain,  disease,  or  death  to  another,  he  goes  to 
a  medicine-man  of  this  fetish  order,  and,  having  paid  a  fee,  he 
drives  in  a  nail  or  knife  where  he  wants  his  enemy  to  feel  pain. 
A  knife-stab  in  a  vital  part  means  a  painful  death  to  the  man's 
enemy ;  a  nail  in  the  shoulder,  elbow,  or  knee  means  ex- 
cruciating agony  in  one  or  other  of  those  joints,  and  indicates 
that  the  man  does  not  want  to  kill  his  enemy,  but  only  wishes 
him  to  have  rheumatism,  abscesses,  or  such  minor  ailments. 
These  fetish  images  are  often  stuck  over  with  nails,  knives, 
and  other  sharp  instruments.  This  is  probably  the  only 
fetish  image  in  connection  with  which  there  is  no  *  white  art f 
practised — Jt  is  neither  a  protective  fetish  nor  a  curative  one, 
but  is  always  used  to  inflict  pain.  On  the  other  hand,  I  have 
heard  that  the  nails,  etc.,  driven  into  this  image  ,are  offerings 
for  benefits  received  ;  and  it  is  possible  that  someone  suffering 
from  a  pain  in  part  of  his  body  has  driven  in  a  nail  in  a  corre- 
sponding part  of  the  image,  to  pass  on  the  pain  to  an  enemy 
whom  he  may  think  sent  it  to  him,  hence  he  may  regard  such 
a  nail  as  an  offering  for  a  benefit  he  hoped  to  receive."  * 

A  Greek  inscription  of  the  fourth  century  B.C.  from  Cyrene 
in  North  Africa  records  an  interesting  instance  of  the  burning 

1  J.  H.  Weeks,  "Anthropological  (1910),  395* 

Notes  on  the  Bangala  of  the  Upper          *  J.  H.  Weeks,  Among  the  Primi- 

Congo  River/1  w.  Journal  of  the  JRoyal  tive   Bakongo    (London    19x4),   325 

Anthropological    Institute,    vol     xl.  sq. 


of  wax  images  for  the  purpose  of  destroying  the  malefactors 
whom  they  represented.  Cyrene  was  founded  by  Greek 
colonists  from  the  island  of  Thera  in  the  Aegean,  and  in 
founding  it  the  Thereans  passed  a  very  stringent  decree 
directed  against  all  such  recreants  as  either  refused  to  sail 
with  the  colonists  or  having  sailed  with  them  should  after- 
wards desert  the  colony  and  return  to  Thera,  Waxen  images 
of  all  such  traitors  were  to  be  made  and  burned,  no  doubt  for 
the  purpose  of  bringing  down  destruction  on  their  heads.1 

In  Egypt,  which  borders  on  Cyrene,  similar  magical 
practices  were  rife  in  antiquity.     On  the  subject  Dr.  Wallis 
Budge  writes  as  follows  :  "  There  were,  however,  in  Egypt 
many  men  who  professed  the  art  of  Black  Magic,  the  object 
of  which  was  to  do  harm.     In  their  hands  the  powers  of  magic 
were  generally  misused,  and  disastrous  results,  if  we  may 
believe  the  papyri,  were  the  consequence.     One  of  the  com- 
monest ways  of  working  evil  was  by  means  of  the  wax  figure. 
A  man  employed  a  magician  to  make  in  wax  a  figure  of  his 
enemy,  whose  name  was  cut  or  written  upon  it,  and  then  to 
work  magic  upon  it  by  reciting  spells  over  it.     If  the  spells 
contained  curses  they  were  supposed  to  take  effect  upon  the 
living  man  ;  and  if  the  figure  were  stabbed,  or  gashes  made 
in  it  with  a  knife,  the  living  man  suffered  terrible  pain,  or 
wounds  appeared  in  his  body.     If  the  figure  were  destroyed 
by  fire  or  by  any  other  means,  the  death  of  the  living  man 
ensued.    The  Westcar  Papyrus  tells  us  that  the  wife  of  one 
Aba-aner  committed  adultery  in  his  garden  with  one  of  his 
servants.    When  the  news  of  this  was  brought  to  him,  he 
made  a  model  of  a  crocodile  in  wax,  and  told  his  servant  to  go 
and  place  it  in  the  river  at  the  spot  where  his  guilty  wife's 
paramour  was  in  the  habit  of  bathing.    As  soon  as  this  man 
entered  the  water  on  the  following  day,  the  wax  crocodile 
turned  into  a  huge  living  crocodile,  which  quickly  devoured 
him.    The  Rollin  Papyrus  states  that  certain  evil  men  suc- 
ceeded in  stealing  a  book  of  magic  from  the  Royal  Library, 
and  that  by  following  the  directions  contained  in  It  they 

1  A.  D.  Nock,  "  A  Curse  from  Cirene,"  in  Abkmdlungtn  4#r 

Cyrene/1  in  Archw  fur  ReKgionswis-  lichtn  Akadsmi*  4*r  Wimmtkzfim 

sensehaft,  vol.  24  (1926),  p.  172,  and  tu  Btrlin,  v.  (1925)  19 
Dr.    Ferri,    "  Atom    insrrizioni    di 

I  MAGIC  7 

succeeded  in  making  wax  figures,  on  which  they  worked  magic 
with  the  view  of  injuring  or  killing  the  king  of  Egypt.  This 
was  held  to  be  treason  in  the  first  degree,  and  the  malefactors 
seem  to  have  suffered  the  death  penalty.  The  use  of  the  wax 
figureswas  not  disdained  bythe  priests  of  Amen-Ra  at  Thebes, 
for  they  regularly  burnt  a  wax  figure  of  the  fiend  Apep,  who 
daily  endeavoured  to  prevent  the  sun  from  rising.  This 
figure  was  in  the  form  of  a  serpent  of  many  folds,  on  which 
the  name  Apep  was  written  or  cut.  A  case  made  of  papyrus 
inscribed  with  spells  containing  curses  was  prepared,  and,  the 
wax  figure  having  been  placed  inside  it,  both  case  and  figure 
were  cast  into  a  fire  made  of  a  special  kind  of  plant.  Whilst 
they  were  burning  the  priest  recited  curses,  and  stamped  upon 
them  with  his  left  foot  until  they  were  rendered  shapeless  and 
were  finally  destroyed.  This  magical  ceremony  was  believed 
to  be  very  helpful  to  Ra,  the  Sun-God,  who  uttered  over  the 
real  Apep  spells  which  paralysed  him,  and  then  killed  him  by 
the  fiery  darts  of  his  rays,  and  consumed  him.'*1 

In  Burma  similar  magical  practices  of  the  injury  of  a  foe 
are  still  in  use,  as  we  learn  from  a  good  observer,  Mrs.  Leslie 
Milne,  who  writes  as  follows  :  "As  in  many  other  countries, 
in  former  times  and  even  at  the  present  day,  small  figures  of 
men  and  women  are  made  to  represent  an  enemy,  and  are 
subjected  to  the  injury  they  would  inflict  on  that  person.  In 
southern  Italy  a  lemon  is  sometimes  named  after  an  enemy 
and  needles  or  splinters  of  wood  are  stuck  into  it  with  the  idea 
of  harming  the  person  that  it  represents.  I  have  never  heard 
of  fruit  being  so  treated  among  the  Palaungs,  nor  have  I 
heard  of  the  drowning  of  a  figure  as  in  Kashmir,  or  of  the 
melting  of  a  wax  image  in  front  of  the  fire  as  was  done  in 
Europe,  The  figures  are  made  of  earth,  and  as  that  in  the 
Palaung  hills  is  not  very  plastic,  it  is  moistened  and  modelled 
on  a  piece  of  board  in  the  manner  of  a  rough  bas-relief.  As 
the  board  is  kept  horizontal,  the  figure  retains  the  shape.  One 
that  was  made  for  me  as  a  specimen,  by  a  wise  man,  was  ten 
inches  long.  I  hoped  to  bring  it  home,  but  it  fell  to  pieces  on 
the  journey.  Incantations  are  said  over  these  figures,  and 
splinters  of  bamboo  are  stuck  into  them,  or  a  hand  or  foot  is 

1  E,  A.  WalUa  Budge,  Osiris  and  the  Egyptian  Resurrection  (London,  1911) 
ii.  177 

g  MAGIC  CHA?. 

cut  off.  The  name  is  sometimes  scratched  on  the  figure  while 
it  is  still  damp.  This  can  only  be  done  by  those  who  can 
write :  those  who  cannot,  whisper  over  it  the  name  of  the 


In  Annam  a  common  form  of  maleficent  magic  is  to 

sculpture  or  to  fashion  out  of  paper  a  representation  of  the 
person  whom  the  magician  wishes  to  injure.     This  effigy  is 
cut  with  the  stroke  of  a  knife  or  a  nail,  and  hidden  in  the 
woodwork  of  the  house  or  under  the  threshold  of  the  person 
whom  the  magician  desires  to  injure.     It  is  believed  that  the 
master  of  the  house  will  suffer  an  injury  corresponding  to  the 
wound  inflicted  on  the  effigy.     In  Tonqtiin  a  similar  male* 
ficent  magic  is  practised  on  wooden  figures  which  represent 
the  foes  of  the  magician.    The  persons   represented   are 
supposed  to  suffer  injuries  corresponding  to  those  which  have 
been  inflicted  on  their  images.     If  the  image  is  decapitated, 
the  man  soon  dies.    Malevolent  carpenters  wil!  sometimes 
introduce  into  the  roof  of  the  house  they  are  building  Httie 
figures  of  wood  or  paper,  carrying  in  their  hands  a  stick,  a 
knife,  or  a  bucket.     In  the  first  two  cases  the  figure  is  supposed 
to  create  domestic  strife  or  robbery  by  armed  burglars.     In 
the  last  case  all  the  good  luck  of  the  household  is  thought 
to  be  drained  away  by  the  mysterious  action  of  the  bucket. 
Further,  in  the  chimney  of  the  kitchen  they  place  two  images 
which  by  the  action  of  the  draught  of  air  with  the  smoke  arc 
made  to  turn  on  their  axes.    This  is  supposed  to  breed  per- 
petual quarrels  between  the  householder  and  his  wife,  who 
are  apparently  thought  to  turn  from  each  other  as  the  images 
turn  in  the  chimney,2 

The  Sedang,  a  warlike  branch  of  the  primitive  Mol  race 
in  Indo-China,  on  the  borders  of  Annam  and  Laos,  employ 
the  magic  of  images  to  secure  success  in  hunting  or  war, 
Before  setting  out  for  war  or  the  chase  they  fashion  an  image 
of  the  men  or  animals  which  they  wish  to  kill,  moulding  them 
either  out  of  the  sand  by  the  river-bank  or  the  earth  of  their 
cultivated  fields.  Having  done  so  they  pierce  the  image  with 
their  spear,  saying  :  "  May  the  man  or  the  animal  thus  perish 
with  the  thrust  of  my  spear  this  very  evening.0  They  are 

1  Mrs.  Leslie  Milne,  The  Home  of  m         *  P.   Giran,    Afy*    </ 
Extern  CUn  (Oxford,  1924),  p.  263,       AnnttmiUs  (Paris,  1912),  p. 

I  MAGIC  9 

persuaded  that  by  this  ceremony  they  ensure  the  success  of 
their  enterprise.1  Among  the  Man  Coc,  a  mountain  tribe 
of  Tonquin,  when  a  man  wishes  to  avenge  himself  on  an 
enemy  for  some  minor  offence  without  killing  him,  he  fashions 
an  image  of  his  enemy  out  of  paper,  fastens  it  to  a  tree,  and 
shoots  it  with  an  arrow  or  a  gun.  This  is  supposed  to  make 
the  culprit  fall  ill ;  but  for  more  serious  offences  the  pro- 
cedure is  different  and  more  complicated.  The  injured  man 
writes  the  name  and  village  of  his  enemy  on  a  piece  of  paper, 
which  he  gives  to  a  he-goat  to  swallow.  Then  he  hangs  the 
goat  from  a  tree,  and  inflicts  upon  it  a  severe  beating,  saying 
all  the  time,  "  I  am  sorry  to  inflict  such  a  punishment  upon 
you,  but  the  cause  is  my  enemy,  who  has  done  me  grievous 
wrong.  You  will  have  to  bear  witness  of  this  before  the 
divinities  to  whom  you  are  despatched.  If  you  fail  to  dis- 
charge this  duty,  your  soul  will  never  be  reincarnated,  but 
will  float  for  ever  in  the  air."  After  that  he  releases  the  un- 
fortunate goat  and  lets  it  wander  and  die  of  hunger  in  the 
forest.  He  awaits  with  confidence  the  result  of  the  message 
which  he  has  sent  by  the  goat  to  the  heavenly  powers,  con- 
vinced that  he  thus  ensures  the  death  of  his  enemy  and  all  his 
children.2  In  this  last  ceremony  the  goat  is  probably  a  sub- 
stitute for  an  image  of  the  man's  enemy. 

In  Japan  the  practice  of  attempting  to  injure  an  enemy  by 
maltreating  an  effigy  representing  him  is  common,  and  takes 
a  variety  of  forms.  The  common  mode  of  carrying  out  the 
charm  is  to  form  a  lay  figure  of  straw,  pierced  with  nails,  and. 
to  bury  it  beneath  the  place  where  the  person  to  be  punished 
usually  sleeps.  To  avenge  the  infidelity  of  a  husband  or  lover 
a  jealous  woman  "will  take  an  image  of  the  faithless  one,  or, 
as  the  case  may  be,  of  his  frail  companion,  or  of  both,  and 
nail  it  to  a  tree  within  the  grounds  of  some  shrine.  At 
whatever  part  of  the  effigy  the  nail  is  driven,  there  will  be  injury 
inflicted  on  the  original  in  the  flesh,  but  if  she  should  meet  the 
ghost  of  an  enormous  bull  and  exhibit  terror  at  the  apparition 
the  potency  of  the  charm  is  lost,  and  can  only  be  revived  with 
incantation  and  imprecations  on  the  offending  pair.  Another 

1 "  L'Envoutement  par  1'Image  chez          s  E.  Diguet,  Zes  Montagnords  dn 
les  Mol,  Annam,"  in  I? Anthropologist      Tonkin  (Paris,  190$),  p. 
xxiii.  (1912)  p.  245. 



account  says  that  at  two  o'clock  in  the  morning  the  operator 

goes  to  the  shrine  of  her  patron  god  (usually  the  Ujibami}  ; 

on  her  bosom  a  mirror  is  hung  ;  sometimes  she  wears  a  crown 

formed  of  an  inverted  iron  tripod  bearing  three  candles.     She 

carries  a  straw  effigy  of  the  victim  in  her  right  hand  and  a 

hammer  in  her  left.    She  nails  the  image  to  the  sacred  tree 

before  the  shrine,  and  while  so  engaged  she  adjures  the  gods 

to  save  their  tree,  impute  the  guilt  of  desecration  to  the  traitor, 

and  visit  him  with  their  deadly  vengeance.     She  visits  the 

tree  each  night  until  the  victim  has  sickened  and  died.     Two 

other  very  similar  forms  of  this  type  were  described  to  me  at 

Yokohama.    In  one  the  operator  goes  at  night  to  the  sacred 

tree  of  a  shrine  near  her  home,  and,  stating  her  purpose  and 

the  number  of  times  she  intends  to  come,  drives  in  a  nail 

through  the  image ;   she  then  pays  the  specified  number  of 

visits,  on  each  occasion  driving  in  a  nail ;   after  a  number  of 

nails  have  been  inserted  blood  will  issue  from  the  tree  if  the 

victim  is  to  die.    In  the  other,  among  the  details  mentioned 

were  the  holding  of  a  lighted  incense-stick,  by  the  operator, 

in  each  corner  of  her  mouth,  and  the  necessity  of  the  most 

complete  secrecy  if  the  operation  were  to  succeed  in  its  object,1  *  * 

The  same  method  of  injuring  an  enemy  by  injuring  a 

magical  effigy  of  him  is  known  and  practised  by  the  Malays. 

"  To  destroy  an  enemy,  there  is  prescribed  in  Malay  versions 

of  Muslim  treatises  a  world-wide  method  of  sorcery.    A 

cabalistic  symbol  is  inscribed  on  wax.    The  wa%  is  moulded 

in  the  form  of  a  man.    Then  the  eyes  of  the  figure  are  pierced 

with  a  needle,  or  its  belly  stabbed,  while  a  purely  Arabic 

charm  is  recited  to  call  down  upon  the  victim  the  anger  of 

Allah !    To  rob  an  enemy  of  power  to  harm  t  it  suffices  to  draw 

his  portrait  in  the  dust  of  cross-roads,  grind  one's  heel  on  his 

navel,  tread  on  his  pictured  heart,  beat  the  face  with  a  stick, 

and  recite  a  short  imprecation/'  * 

Thus  among  the  Looboos,  a  primitive  tribe  of  Sumatra, 
who  differ  from  their  neighbours  in  culture,  language,  and 
appearance,  images  of  persons  are  made  and  ill-treated  in  all 
sorts  of  ways  in  order  that  by  this  means  the  persons  themselves 

L.   Hildburgh,  «  Notes   oa      p.  j  18. 

^*gi?]  Meth<Ki*  for         *  R'  °*  Winrtedt,  .tt«»«r,  &*», 
/'  m  Mm,  xv.  (1915)      and  Suji  (Lumluii,  1923),  pp.  K.<  ,* 


may  sympathetically  suffer  corresponding  injuries.  Usually 
two  images  are  made,  one  of  clay  and  one  of  wood  ;  the  one 
is  buried  under  the  house  of  the  person  who  is  to  be  injured  ; 
on  the  other  Spanish  pepper  is  smeared  on  the  part  corre- 
sponding to  the  heart ;  or  nails  are  knocked  into  that  part  of 
the  image  ;  sometimes  the  image  is  hung  on  a  rope  and  swung 
to  and  fro,  in  order  that  the  person  represented  may  in  like 
manner  shake  with  fits.  If  a  lover  finds  that  his  love  is  not 
returned,  he  may  employ  a  sorcerer  to  injure  the  woman  by 
means  of  an  image.  The  sorcerer  makes  an  image  of  the 
woman  out  of  earth  taken  from  a  burial-ground  and  dresses 
it  in  white,  just  like  a  corpse  in  a  shroud.  Then  he  makes  a 
mixture  of  things  that  cause  itch,  down  from  plants,  etc.,  and 
strews  it  on  the  image.  Then  he  gets  a  little  earth  from  the 
place  where  the  woman  last  made  water,  also  some  locks  of 
her  hair  and  parings  of  her  nails,  and  some  grains  of  rice 
which  she  left  over  at  a  meal.  Of  these  ingredients  a  mixture 
is  made  and  placed  on  the  puppet.1 

In  our  own  country  cases  of  a  similar  use  of  magical  effigies 
for  the  injury  of  enemies  are  upon  record.  In  the  reign  of 
DufFus,  the  son  of  Malcolm,  the  seventy-eighth  King  of  Scot- 
land, •"  amidst  these  confusions  the  King  was  seized  with  a 
new  and  unusual  disease,  and  no  evident  cause  appearing, 
when  all  remedies  had  been  tried  in  vain,  a  rumour  was  spread 
abroad,  by  I  know  not  whom,  that  he  was  bewitched  :  the 
suspicion  of  this  witchcraft  arose  either  from  some  indication 
of  his  disease,  or  else  because  his  body  wasted  and  pined  away 
by  continual  sweating,  and  his  strength  was  so  much  decayed, 
that  the  physicians  who  were  sent  for  far  and  near,  not  know- 
ing what  to  apply  for  his  relief ;  when  no  common  causes  of 
the  disease  discovered  themselves,  they  even  laid  it  to  the 
charge  of  a  secret  one.  And  whilst  all  were  intent  on  the 
King's  malady,  at  last  news  were  brought,  that  nightly 
assemblies  and  conspiracies  were  made  against  him  at  Forres, 
a  town  in  Murray.  The  report  was  taken  for  truth,  there 
being  nothing  to  contradict  it ;  therefore  some  faithful 
messengers  were  sent  to  Donald,  Governor  of  the  Castle,  in 
whom  the  King  confided  much,  even  in  his  greatest  affairs, 

1      J.  Kreemer,  "  De  Loeboesin  Man-      Landen      Volkenkundt     van    Ntdtr* 
dailing,"  in  Bijdragen  tot  de  TaaJ-,      landsch-Indii^  Ixvi.  (1912)  p.  329. 

12  MAO  1C  CHAP. 

to  find  out  the  truth  of  the  matter.  He,  from  a  discovery 
made  by  a  certain  harlot,  whose  mother  was  noted  for  a 
witch,  detected  the  whole  conspiracy.  For  the  young  girl, 
having  blabbed  out,  a  few  days  before,  some  words  concern- 
ing the  sickness  and  death  of  the  king,  being  apprehended 
and  brought  to  the  rack  to  be  tortured,  at  the  very  first  sight 
of  it  she  presently  declared  what  was  designed  against  the  life 
of  the  King.  Upon  this  some  soldiers  were  sent,  who  found 
the  maid's  mother  and  some  other  gossips  roasting  the  King's 
picture,  made  in  wax,  by  a  soft  fire-  Their  design  was  that 
as  the  wax  did  leisurely  melt,  so  the  King,  being  dissolved  into 
a  sweat,  should  pine  away  by  degrees,  and  when  the  wax  was 
quite  consumed,  then,  his  breath  failing  him,  he  should 
presently  die.  When  this  picture  of  wax  was  broken,  and  the 
witches  punished,  in  the  same  month  (as  some  say)  the  King 
was  freed  from  his  disease/' l 

In  England,  under  the  reign  of  Henry  VI,  in  the  year 
1447,  the  duke  of  Gloucester  "  worsted  in  all  court  intrigues, 
for  which  his  temper  was  not  suited  ;  but  possessing  in  a  high 
degree  the  favour  of  the  public,  had  already  received  from  his 
rivals  a  cruel  mortification,  which  he  had  hitherto  borne  with- 
out violating  public  peace,  but  which  it  was  impossible  that  a 
person  of  his  spirit  and  humanity  could  ever  forgive.     His 
duchess,  the  daughter  of  Reginald,  lord  Cobham,  had  been 
accused  of  the  crime  of  witchcraft,  and  it  was  pretended  that 
there  was  found  in  her  possession  a  waxen  figure  of  the  king, 
which  she  and  her  associates,  sir  Roger  Bolingbroke  a  priest, 
and  one  Margery  Jordan  of  Eye,  melted  in  a  magical  manner 
before  a  slow  fire,  with  an  intention  of  making  Henry's  force 
and  vigour  melt  away  by  like  insensible  degrees.    The  accusa- 
tion was  well  calculated  to  affect  the  weak  and  credulous  mind 
of  the  king,  and  to  gain  belief  in  an  ignorant  age  ;  and 
the  duchess  was  brought  to  trial  with  her  confederates.     The 
nature  of  this  crime,  so  opposite  to  all  common  sense,  seems 
always  to  exempt  the  accusers  from  observing  the  rules  of  com- 
mon sense  in  their  evidence ;  the  prisoners  were  pronounced 
guilty ;  the  duchess  was  condemned  to  do  public  penance  and 
to  suffer  perpetual  imprisonment ;  the  others  were  executed/*  * 

History  9f  S^tl&nd        *  D,  Hume,  Th*  Histwy  */  M*g* 
(Edinburgh,  1751),  i.  223.  knd  (Ediabwgfc,  18*8),  ill. 


But  homoeopathic  or  imitative  magic  by  means  of  an 
image  has  not  always  been  used  for  the  maleficent  purpose 
of  injuring  or  killing  a  foe.     Occasionally  it  has  been  employed 
for  the  benevolent  purpose  of  enabling  the  practitioner  to  be 
born  again  to  a  higher  form  of  life.     On  one  occasion  it  was 
so  employed  by  the  Rajah  of  Travancore  in  Southern  India, 
as  we  learn  from  the  following  passage  of  a  contemporary 
English  writer.     "Among   the  natives   of   Malabar  every 
man  is  confined  to  his  own  caste,  follows  the  profession  of  his 
ancestors,  is  married  in  childhood  to  his  equal,  and  never 
rises  higher  than  the  limited  sphere  in  which  he  was  born  : 
there  may  be  exceptions,  but  they  are  very  uncommon.     One 
indeed  of  an  extraordinary  nature  occurred  during  my  resi- 
dence in  Travancore  :  the  reigning  sovereign,  who  was  of  an 
inferior  caste  of  Brahmins,  advanced  himself  into  a  higher, 
by  purifications,  gifts,  and  ceremonies,  part  of  which  con- 
sisted in  his  majesty  passing  through  the  body  of  a  cow, 
of  the  size  of  life,  and  made  of  pure  gold  :   this  was  the  last 
stage  of  purification  ;    and  when  performed,  the  cow  was 
divided  among  the  Brahmins/'     The  same  writer  adds  in  a 
footnote  :    "  Orme  ascribes  a  different  cause  for  the  king  of 
Travancore's  regeneration  to  that  given  to  me  by  his  subjects, 
who,  perhaps,  were  withheld  by  fear  from  assigning  the  true 
reason.     '  The  king  of  Travancore  has  conquered,  or  carried 
war  into  all  the  countries  which  lay  round  his  dominions,  and 
lives  in  continual  exercise  of  his  arms.     To  atone  for  the  blood 
which  he  has  spilt,  the  Brahmins  persuaded  him  that  it  was 
necessary  that  he  should  be  born  anew  :   this  ceremony  con- 
sisted in  putting  the  prince  into  the  body  of  a  golden  cow  of 
immense  value  ;    where,  after  he  had  lain  the  time  pre- 
scribed, he  came  out  regenerated,  and  freed  from  all  the 
crimes  of  his  former  life.     The  cow  was  afterwards  cut  up,  and 
divided  among  the  seers  who  had  invented  this  extraordinary 
method  for  the  remission  of  his  sins.*  "  x 

Further,  homoeopathic  or  imitative  magic  by  means  of  an 
image  may  be  resorted  to  with  the  kindly  object  of  facilitating 
a  woman's  childbirth.  Thus  in  Perak,  one  of  the  Malay 
States,  during  the  seventh  month  of  a  woman's  pregnancy, 
"  a  palm-blossom  is  swathed  to  represent  a  baby  with  a  child's 

1  J,  Forbes,  Oriental  Memoirs  (London,  1813),  i.  377* 




brooch  on  the  bosom.  This  doll,  adorned  with  flowers,  is 
laid  on  a  tray  and  the  tray  placed  in  a  cradle  made  of  three, 
five,  or  seven  layers  of  cloth  according  to  the  rank  of  the  pro- 
spective parents.  Midwife  and  magician  sprinkle  rice-paste 
on  doll  and  cradle.  The  midwife  rocks  the  cradle,  crooning 
baby  songs.  Then  she  gives  the  doll  to  the  future  mother 
and  father  and  all  their  relatives  to  dandle.  Finally  the  doll 
is  put  back  into  the  cradle  and  left  there  till  the  next  day, 
when  it  is  broken  up  and  thrown  into  water/'  * 

Again,  homoeopathic  or  imitative  magic  has  very  often 

been  employed  for  the  benevolent  purpose  of  relieving  pain 

and  healing  the  sick.    Thus  the  Toradyas  of  Central  Celebes 

employ  rings  of  red  stones  to  staunch  the  bleeding  of  wounds 

of  all  sorts.2    The  same  principle  of  homoeopathic  magic  is 

employed  by  the  Brahuis  of  Baluchistan  to  save  the  wheat 

crop  when  it  is  attacked  by  red  rust.     The  remedy  is  thus 

described  by  Mr.  Denys  Bray,  our  best  authority  on  the 

Brahuis.    "  At  least  once  every  five  years  a  disease,  variously 

known  as  surkhi  or  ratti,  '  red  rust/  attacks  the  wheat  in 

Kalat,  and  the  more  thickly-growing  and  well-watered  the 

crop,  the  severer  the  attack.     It  comes  with  the  n&mbi>  the 

moist  south  wind,  which  carries  it  rapidly  from  field  to  field  ; 

but  it  soon  disappears  if  the  wind  veers  round  to  the  north* 

If  the  gorich  or  north-wind  doesn't  blow,  they  get  Sayyids  to 

read  charms  over  some  earth  and  throw  it  on  the  fields.     But 

if  this  fails,  the  Brahuis  are  not  yet  at  their  wits'  end.     They 

get  hold  of  a  boy  seven  years  old,  bathe  him,  and  deck  him 

out  in  red  clothes,  and  make  him  drive  a  red  kid  through  the 

fields  attacked  by  the  red  rust.    The  kid  is  then  slaughtered, 

and  the  meat  distributed  in  the  name  of  God.     A  most  effec- 

tive remedy  this,  they  tell  me."  a     And  just  as  red  stones  are 

supposed  to  arrest  the  flow  of  red  blood  by  homoeopathic  magic 

so  yellow  objects  are  often  employed  as  a  cure  for  yellow 

jaundice.    Thus  among  the  Mehtars,  the  caste  of  sweepers 

and  scavengers  in  the  Central  Provinces  of  India,  when  a  child 

suffers  from  jaundice  they  get  the  flesh  of  a  yellow  snake  which 

1  R.  O.  Winstedt,  Shaman,  $aiva>  Middm*Cehfo$   (Batavia, 

and  Sufi,  p.  118.  350. 

*  N.  Adrian!  and  A.   C.  Kruijt,         *  Census  of  India,  l$l  1  ;    vol.  iv,r 

De  Bare'e-sprekendt   Toradja's  van  Baluchistan,  Irjr  Denis  Bray,  p,  68. 


appears  in  the  rains,  and  of  the  rohu  fish,  which  has  yellowish 
scales,  and  hang  them  to  its  neck  ;  or  they  catch  a  small  frog 
alive,  tie  it  up  in  a  yellow  cloth,  and  hang  it  to  the  child's  neck 
by  a  blue  thread  till  it  dies.1  In  Wales  the  old  cure  for 
jaundice  was  to  put  a  gold  coin  at  the  bottom  of  a  pewter  mug, 
fill  it  with  clear  mead,  and  ask  the  patient  to  look  into  it 
without  drinking  any.  This  was  to  be  done  while  repeating 
the  Lord's  Prayer  nine  times  over  without  a  mistake.2  How- 
ever, Welsh  opinion  seems  to  hesitate  between  regarding 
yellow  objects  as  a  cure  or  as  a  cause  of  jaundice  and  other  ail- 
ments, as  we  learn  from  the  following  passage  :  "  Yellow  was 
considered  very  bad  for  the  '  sterricks  '  (hysteria),  and  country 
folk  said  that  if  you  gazed  too  long  upon  a  '  yellow  rag  '  you 
would  become  '  silly  and  moon-struck.'  The  plague  was 
often  called  the  yellow  sickness  or  the  yellow  complaint.  At 
the  same  time,  a  person  suffering  from  jaundice  was  advised 
to  wear  a  yellow  ribbon  or  woollen  rag  around  his  throat. 
But  in  some  parts  of  Wales  it  was  asserted  that  yellow  worn 
on  any  part  of  the  body  would  induce  or  *  conjure  '  the 
jaundice.  If  a  yellow-hammer  could  be  caught  and  held 
before  the  face  of  a  person  afflicted  with  jaundice,  a  cure  might 
be  expected.  A  piece  of  amber  or  a  topaz  put  in  a  drinking 
goblet  or  cup,  and  the  latter  filled  with  mead,  was  a  cure  for 
jaundice.  The  skin  of  a  lizard  or  viper  placed  under  the 
pillow  served  the  same  purpose."  8  And  in  Wales,  as  yellow 
objects  have  been  used  as  a  cure  for  jaundice,  so  on  the  same 
principle  of  homoeopathic  magic,  red  objects  have  been 
employed  as  a  cure  for  scarlet  fever  and  other  maladies.  So 
"  in  1859  a  doctor  of  the  old  school  ordered  a  patient  suffering 
from  scarlet  fever  to  be  dressed  in  red  night  and  day  clothing. 
Red  curtains  were  suspended  from  the  window-pole,  and 
the  old-fashioned,  four-posted  bedstead  was  draped  with  red 
material.  Smallpox  patients  were  also  enveloped  in  red,  and 
red  blinds  or  curtains  were  drawn  across  the  windows.  At  the 
first  approach  of  scarlet  fever  or  smallpox  the  person  was 
subjected  to  red  treatment.  There  was  an  old  superstition 

1  R.  V.  Russell,  Tribes  and  Castes  Folk- Stories  of  Wales  (London,  1909), 

of  the    Central  Provinces   of  India  p.  228. 
(London,  1916),  iv.  224.     , 

1  M.    Trevelyan,    Folk-Lor*    and         *  M.  Trevelyan,  op.  cit.  p. 

,5  MA  OIC  CHAP, 

that  if  scarlet  fever  or  smallpox  were  epidemic,  red  flannel 
worn  around  the  neck,  or  next  to  the  skin  on  any  part  of  the 
body,  warded  away  the  disease.  Even  in  the  present  day  the 
peasantry  of  Wales  cling  very  closely  to  the  old  superstition 
about  a  bit  of  red  flannel  as  a  preventive  against  fever,  small- 
pox, and  rheumatism/* 1 

Further,  homoeopathic  or  imitative  magic  is  employed  by 
the  Looboos  of  Sumatra  to  impart  virulence  to  the  poison 
with  which  they  smear  their  arrows.  The  poison  is  made 
from  the  sap  of  various  plants*  The  mode  of  preparing  the 
poison  is  kept  secret  by  the  priest  or  sorcerer,  for  many  magical 
ceremonies  are  observed  in  the  preparation  of  it.  It  may  not 
be  made  in  the  house,  but  out  in  the  forest.  The  priest  or 
sorcerer  is  assisted  by  a  number  of  persons,  each  of  whom  has 
his  appointed  task,  the  general  intention  of  the  ceremonies 
being  to  represent  dramatically  the  desired  effect  of  the  poison. 
Thus  one  man  will  climb  a  tree  and  pretend  to  fall  down  from 
it ;  another  makes  as  if  he  must  vomit  violently  ;  while 
another  lies  naked  on  the  ground  and  mimics  the  motions  of 
a  man  in  convulsions.  The  poison  is  very  strong,  and  cauees 
severe  vomiting.2 

Similarly,  on  the  principles  of  homoeopathic  or  imitative 
magic,  among  the  Kai  of  Northern  New  Guinea  a  sorcerer 
imagines  that  he  can  cause  sickness  or  death  by  mimicking  in 
his  own  person  the  sufferings  and  death  of  his  victim,3 

Among  the  natives  of  the  Bathurst  and  Melville  Islands, 
off  the  northern  coast  of  Australia,  the  faces  of  boys  at 
initiation  are  rubbed  with  the  tendrils  or  u  whiskers  "  of 
yams,  for  the  purpose  of  promoting,  on  the  principles  of 
homoeopathic  magic,  the  growth  of  whiskers  on  the  faces  of 
the  novices.4 

In  primitive  society  many  acts  are  forbidden,  Jn  other 
words,  are  tabooed,  because  it  is  believed  that  if  they  were 
committed  they  would,  on  the  principles  of  homoeopathic 
magic,  entail  certain  undesirable  results.  Of  such  taboos 
I  have  given  many  examples  elsewhere.*  Here  I  will  add 

*  M.  Trevelyan,  op.  cit.  p.  311.  *  Baldwin  Spencer,  Afetinr  Trite 

1  J.  Kreemer,  op.  ciL  p.  308.  of  the  North*™  Territory  of  Aus 

1  Ch.  Keysser  in  R.  Neuhauss,  tr&lia  (London,  1914),  p,  99. 

Deutsch  Mu-Guinea  (Berlin,  191 1),  iii.  *  The  Magic  Art  and  tk* 

P- 137-  of  Kings,  i.  m 

I  MAGIC  17 

some  fresh  examples.  Thus  among  the  Birhors,  a  primitive 
tribe  of  Chota  Nagpur  in  India,  "  a  Birhor  woman,  like  a 
Santal  woman,  must  abstain  from  eating  such  fruits  of  the 
tarop  (Buchania  latifolid)  or  the  terel  (Diospyrus  tomentosd) 
tree  as  may  grow  together  in  one  accrescent  calyx.  If  she 
infringes  this  taboo,  she  will  give  birth  to  twins.  A  woman 
must  not  comb  her  hair  at  sunset.  Should  she  do  so  her  hair 
will  fall  on  Smgbonga's  rice,  as  that  is  the  time  when  Sing- 
bonga  (identified  with  the  sun)  retires  to  eat.  A  pregnant 
woman  must  not  step  over  a  sagar  or  block-wheel  cart. 
Should  she  do  so,  her  child's  throat  will  emit  a  creaking 
sound  like  that  of  a  sagar.  A  pregnant  woman  must  not 
step  over  a  dog.  Should  she  do  so,  her  child's  belly  will 
make  a  rumbling  noise  like  that  of  a  dog.  A  pregnant 
woman  must  not  eat  the  flesh  of  deer,  of  hare  or  porcu- 
pine, or  other  animals  with  hair  on  their  bodies,  nor  even 
look  at  them  when  brought  home  by  a  hunting  party. 
Should  she  do  so,  she  will  give  birth  to  children  with  hairy 

Again,  the  Chadar,  a  small  caste  of  weavers  and  village 
watchmen  in  the  Central  Provinces  of  India  will  not  throw 
the  first  teeth  of  a  child  on  to  a  tiled  roof,  because  they  believe 
that  if  this  were  done  his  next  teeth  would  be  wide  and  ugly 
like  the  tiles.2 

Among  the  Looboos  of  Sumatra,  while  a  birth  is  taking 
place  no  one  should  peep  round  the  corner  of  the  house-door  ; 
else  the  child  in  the  womb  might  miss  its  way  and  so  retard 
the  delivery.  For  the  same  reason  people  entering  the  house 
must  not  stop  on  the  threshold  but  must  come  straight  in  or 
go  straight  out.  All  chests  and  boxes  must  be  open,  and  the 
clothes  and  hair  of  the  woman  must  hang  loose.  Further, 
all  eiforts  are  made  to  get  a  brooding  hen  and  to  set  it  down 
before  the  woman,  in  order  that  by  its  contagious  example  the 
birth  may  be  hastened.3  This  last  provision  is,  of  course,  not 
a  taboo  but  a  positive  injunction  of  homoeopathic  rnagic. 
Among  the  Toradyas  of  Central  Celebes  it  is  similarly  a  rule 
that  any  person  entering  the  house  of  a  pregnant  woman 
should  not  stand  on  the  threshold  but  pass  straight  in,  any 

1  S.  C.  Roy,  The  Birhors  (Ranchi,          *  R.  V.  Russell,  op,  tit.  i.  402. 
I925)>  PP-  376  sg$.  *  J.  Kreemer,  op.  cit.  p,  313. 


delay  on  the  threshold  being  no  doubt  supposed  to  retard  the 
woman's  delivery.1 

In  Africa,  among  the  Boloki  or  Bangala  of  the  Upper  Congo, 
when  aman  is  making  a  canoe,  he  must  not  drink  water,  or  other- 
wise it  is  believed  that  the  canoe  would  leak,  in  other  words, 
would  take  water  into  its  hull,  just  as  he  takes  water  into  his 
body.2    Among  the  Ibibios  of  Southern  Nigeria,  "  old  women 
may  not  touch  soup  made  in  deep  pots,  '  lest  they  receive  too 
much  nourishment  therefrom,  which  will  cause  them  to  live 
beyond  the  allotted  span.'     Neither  may  their  chop  (food) 
be  cooked  upon  logs  in  which  the  least  trace  of  sap  remains, 
lest  this  should  act  as  a  rejuvenating  influence.     Only  quite 
dry  and  sapless  branches  may  be  used  for  them.     This  taboo 
is  most  carefully  kept.     Many  an  aged  crone  sits  shivering, 
at  night-time,  in  a  far  corner  rather  than  venture  to  warm  her 
withered  limbs  near  the  glow  of  a  fire  nourished  by  partially 
dried  logs,  while  all  who  hold  by  old  custom  would  rather 
starve  to  death  than  eat  food  prepared  over   such  fires. 
The  reason  is  somewhat  pathetic.     They  fear  that,  should 
the   taboo   be   broken,  their   mothers   and   grandmothers, 
instead  of  welcoming   them  near  the  door  of  the   ghost 
town,  will  drive  them  away  with  harsh  words  on  arriving, 
and  force  them  to  dwell  lonely  and  kinless  amid  outcast 

In  Wales  a  woman  should  never  spin  or  knit  in  or  near  a 
field,  for  the  witches  will  tangle  the  yarn**  This  rule  is  an 
example  of  a  taboo  based  on  the  principle  of  homoeopathic 
or  imitative  magic,  the  winding  of  the  woman's  threads  being 
supposed  to  entail  the  winding  of  the  corn-stalks  by  the  witches. 
A  similar  taboo  was  observed,  no  doubt  for  a  similar  reason, 
by  women  in  ancient  Italy,5 

Further,  in  primitive  society  many  foods  are  forbidden,  in 
other  words  tabooed,  on  the  principle  of  homoeopathic  magic. 
Thus  among  the  Suk,  a  tribe  of  Kenya,  in  East  Africa,  a 
woman  may  not  eat  the  flesh  of  a  cow  that  has  died  in  calf, 

1  Adrian!  and  Kruijt,  op.  cit.  ii.  pp.  Cf.    id.9    The   Peoples   of  Southern 
43  J£-  Nigeria.)  iii.  743. 

2  J.    H.    Weeks,    Among    Congo  *  M.  Trevelyan,  op*  cit.  p.  209. 
Cannibals  (London,  1913),  p.  298.  *  The  Mvgic  Art  and  the  Evolution 

*  P.  A.  Talbot,  Life  in  Southern      of  Kings,  i.   113,  citing  Fliay,  Nat. 
Nigeria    (London,     1923),    p.    224.      Hist,  xxviii,  28. 

I  MA  QIC  19 

lest  she  herself  should  die  in  pregnancy.1  Among  the 
Lobango,  a  tribe  to  the  west  of  Lake  Tanganyika,  the  flesh  of 
the  parrot  may  be  eaten  only  by  very  old  men,  for  they  say 
that  if  young  men  ate  of  it  their  children  would  have  the  wad- 
dling gait  of  the  bird.2 

The  Toradyas  of  Bada  in  Central  Celebes  commonly  eat 
the  larvae  of  beetles,  but  a  pregnant  woman  may  not  eat  of 
this  food,  because  they  find  that  the  insect  swells  through 
eating  the  pith  of  the  tree,  and  they  fear  that  if  the  woman 
partook  of  it  the  foetus  in  her  womb  would  swell  in  like 
manner,  and  so  impede  her  delivery.3    Again,  among  the 
Kai  of  Northern  New  Guinea,  many  different  kinds  of  food 
are  forbidden  to  children  on  the  ground  of  homoeopathic 
magic.     Thus  it  is  thought  that  if  they  ate  of  the  flesh  of 
the  white  cockatoo  they  would  be  cowardly  like  the  bird. 
Further,  if  they  ate  the  flesh  of  the  cuckoo,  a  girl  would 
afterwards  give  birth  to  children  one  after  the  other  in  un- 
broken succession,  and  a  boy  would  be  reduced  to  marrying 
a  widow.     Again  if  children  ate  the  flesh  of  cassowaries  or 
kangaroos  they  would  get  long  necks  and  thick  bellies  like 
those  of  the  bird  and  animal,  and  the  girls  would  have  no 
breasts,  to  the  swelling  of  which  they  passionately  look  for- 
ward.    If,  at  the  season  of  puberty,  a  girl  were  to  eat  of 
mussels  and  crabs,  her  breasts  would  remain  undeveloped  like 
these  Crustacea  in  their  shells.4    Again  the  fruit  of  the  make 
tree  is  thought  to  render  the  eater  cowardly,  hence  it  may  only 
be  eaten  by  women,  but  is  always  forbidden  to  men,  and  its 
wood  may  not  be  used  to  kindle  a  fire  in  which  a  spear  is 
tempered,  lest  it  should  infect  with  its  cowardice  the  spear  and 
hence  the  warrior  who  used  it.     The  reason  for  this  taboo 
appears  to  be  that  the  wood  of  the  tree  is  eaten  by  the  larvae 
of  a  species  of  beetle,  which  is  presumably  taxed  with  cowardice 
by  the  natives.5 

The  savage  commonly  believes  that  there  exists  between 
persons  at  a  distance  from  each  other  a  magic  sympathy  such 
that  the  actions  of  the  one  directly  affect  the  other,  however  far 

i  M.  W.  H.  Beech,  Th*  Suk  Bada  in  Midden- Celebes,"  in  Tijd- 

(Oxford,  1911),  p.  10.  schriftvanhetNtdtrlandschAardrijk- 

1  D.  Livingstone,  Last  Journals  skundigGsno0t$ck&p^vi.(i9Q$)v.349. 
(London,  1874),  ii.  145,  4  R.  Neuhauss,  op.  cit*  iii.  34  sg. 

1  A*  C.   Kruijt,  "  Het  landschap         *  R.  Neuhauss,  op.  dt.  ii)".  p.  104, 



he  or  she  may  be  away.  Such  a  magic  sympathy,  for  example, 
is  usually  believed  to  exist  between  husband  and  wife  when 
the  husband  is  away  hunting  or  at  war  and  his  wife  remains 
at  home.  In  such  cases  during  the  absence  of  the  husband 
the  wife  is  commonly  bound  to  observe  certain  rules  of  con- 
duct, to  do  certain  things  or  to  abstain  from  doing  others. 
She  does  certain  things  which  are  thought  to  promote  the 
safety  and  success  of  her  absent  spouse  :  she  refrains  from 
doing  other  things  which,  if  she  did  them,  might  endanger 
the  success  or  the  life  of  her  distant  husband.  Elsewhere  I 
have  given  examples  of  this  primitive  form  of  a  belief  in 
telepathy.1  I  will  now  adduce  some  fresh  examples. 

Thus  among  the  Banyankole,  a  tribe  in  the  south  of 
Uganda,  "  when  a  man  was  out  hunting,  his  wife  refrained 
from  sexual  intercourse  with  other  men,  and  she  had  to  be 
careful  not  to  kill  anything ;  even  vermin,  if  caught,  must 
be  thrown  away  and  not  killed.  She  might  let  no  man  pass 
behind  her  back,  but  warned  him  to  keep  in  front  of  her. 
Should  she  neglect  any  of  these  precautions,  her  husband's 
chances  of  obtaining  game  in  the  hunt  would  be  ruined/'  2 
Among  the  Thonga  or  Ronga  of  south-eastern  Africa  the 
rule  of  continence  is  also  binding  on  a  woman  during  her 
husband's  absence  at  the  chase.  On  this  subject  M.  Junod, 
our  great  authority  on  the  tribe,  writes  as  follows :  "Old 
Makhani  assured  me  that  incontinence  on  the  part  of  the  wife 
at  home  would  have  as  a  consequence  that  the  husband  would 
be  attacked  and  killed  by  wild  beasts  far  away  in  the  desert. 
These  women  must  moreover  observe  certain  rules  in  their 
everyday  life.  They  must  smear  the  floor  of  their  huts  only 
early  in  the  morning  or  late  in  the  evening,  viz.  at  the  time 
of  day  when  their  husbands  are  not  busy  hunting  ;  then  all 
will  go  well  with  them.  Thus  the  behaviour  of  the  wife  has 
its  effect  on  the  husband's  fate.  Sometimes  she  will  take  a 
plate,  fill  it  with  attractive  food,  call  her  children,  and  dis- 
tribute it  to  them,  in  order  that  her  husband,  when  passing 
through  the  villages  in  the  far-distant  country,  may  be  well 
treated  by  the  inhabitants  of  the  land.  Should  a  death 
occur  in  the  hunter's  village  during  his  absence,  it  is  very 

**  An  and  the  Evolution        *  J-  Roscoe,  Th*  BanyankoU  (Cam- 
19  xw .  bridge;  I923);p>  I6       *  ^ai* 

I  MAGIC  21 

dangerous  for  him.  It  was  for  this  reason  that  Makhani 
was  attacked  by  a  buffalo  which  injured  his  skull.  Those  at 
home  must  expose  themselves  to  vapour  baths  in  the  early 
morning  and  late  in  the  evening,  as  in  the  case  of  smearing 
the  hut.J>1  In  the  same  tribe,  when  a  man  is  away  hunting 
a  hippopotamus,  his  wife  at  home  is  bound  to  observe  certain 
rules  of  conduct  for  the  purpose  of  ensuring  his  success  and 
safety  in  the  chase.  "  As  soon  as  the  assagai  is  thrown, 
somebody  runs  to  the  hunter's  village  to  inform  his  wife. 
The  woman  must  at  once  shut  herself  up  in  the  hut  and 
remain  perfectly  quiet.  She  lights  a  pipe  and  keeps  it  burn- 
ing the  whole  time.  A  little  child  brings  her  her  pipe  (Ronga 
women  are  great  pipe  smokers).  She  must  neither  eat  nor 
drink  ;  or,  if  she  is  very  thirsty,  the  child  will  bring  her 
some  water.  In  any  case,  she  must  not  crush  her  mealies  ; 
she  must  not  go  out  of  the  hut  except  to  satisfy  her  natural 
wants.  Why  ?  Because  if  she  were  to  move  to  and  fro  in 
the  village,  this  would  induce  the  hippopotamus  to  rush 
wildly  upon  her  husband  and  possibly  kill  him.  Moreover, 
the  fact  that  she  remains  confined  within  the  circular  walls  of 
the  hut  will  have  as  a  consequence  that  the  wild  beast  will  be 
in  some  sort  imprisoned  in  a  small  space  ;  it  will  not  be  able 
to  run  far  away  and  escape."2 

Among  the  Tumbuka  of  Central  Africa,  when  the  hunters 
were  going  forth  to  kill  an  elephant,  after  all  preparations 
had  been  made,  and  sacrifices  had  been  offered  to  the  spirits 
of  the  dead,  "  the  chief  hunter  charged  the  villagers  who 
remained  that  there  must  be  no  quarrelling  or  immorality 
indulged  in  within  the  village.  None  were  to  leave  their  homes 
to  visit  other  places,  but  all  were  to  remain  quiet  and  law- 
abiding  lest  the  game  disappear,  or  turn  in  anger  and  rend 
the  hunters.  As  he  left  the  village  he  blew  a  loud  blast  on  a 
little  horn  he  carried,  and  shouted  back  to  the  people,  '  Let 
those  who  have  gone  before,  go  in  peace  ;  but  let  him  that 
utters  my  name  die/  The  curse  was  to  prevent  any  talk 
about  the  projected  hunt  lest  the  game  hear  about  it  and 
hide  away.*'  8  Among  the  Baya,  a  tribe  of  equatorial  Africa 

1  H.  A.  Junod,  The  Life  of  a  South.          *  Junod,  op.  cit.  ii.  69. 
African    Tribe,   2nd   edit,    (London,          8  0.  Fraser,  Winning  a  Primitive 
1927)  ii.  62,  Ptepl*  (London,  1914),  p»  136. 



on  the  eastern  borders  of  what  used  to  be  the  Cameroons, 
hunters  observed  a  period  of  continence  of  three  days  before 
going  forth  to  the  chase  lest  they  should  be  killed  by  the 
animals.  If  a  wife  does  not  accompany  her  husband  on  the 
expedition  she  is  bound  to  remain  in  her  hut  the  whole  time 
of  his  absence.  Above  all  she  must  practise  strict  continence. 
If  a  village  has  hunted  several  times  without  success  the  hunters 
accuse  their  wives  of  infidelity,  and  a  hunter  is  called  in  to 
exorcise  them.  If  the  ill-luck  persists,  the  women  are  sub- 
jected to  the  poison-ordeal  in  order  to  determine  the  culprit 
who  by  incontinence  has  brought  misfortune  on  the  village,1 
Among  the  Wandamba  of  East  Africa,  in  the  Tanganyika 
Territory,  the  principle  of  magical  telepathy  is  also  employed 
to  bring  down  the  elephants  which  they  hunt,  "  When 
following  a  herd  containing  a  large  bull  they  rub  some  of  his 
excrement  into  one  or  two  of  their  cicatrices,  which  they  open 
slightly  for  the  purpose,  and  pour  some  of  the  original  medicine 
into  his  footprints,  thereby  causing  him  to  travel  slowly  and 
lag  behind  apart  from  the  rest  of  the  herd.  An  elephant  or 
any  other  animal  may  also  be  called  back  out  of  a  herd  by 
taking  a  piece  of  grass,  leaf,  or  twig  which  he  has  chewed  and 
expectorated,  and  placing  it  on  a  lonely  grave,  whereupon  the 
desired  animal  may  shortly  be  encountered  alone  and  deprived 
of  life  like  the  occupant  of  the  grave  ;  part  of  the  leaf  or  grass 
should  also  be  mixed  with  the  original  medicine  and  rubbed 
on  the  gun  and  in  one  of  the  cuts.  Another  device  sometimes 
employed  in  order  to  procure  a  copious  blood  spoor  after 
wounding  is  to  stick  a  fruit  of  the  mtonga  tree  on  the  end  of  a 
gun,  roast  it  in  fire,  and  then  pour  the  juice  down  the  barrel 
of  the  gun  and  rub  it  into  one  of  the  cuts  on  the  hunter's  arm  ; 
and  it  is  always  a  wise  precaution  to  rub  in  a  little  more 
medicine  on  viewing  the  quarry  and  before  approaching  to 
close  quarters.'1  In  this  tribe  moreover,  elephant  hunters  are 
bound  to  practise  the  strictest  continence  during  the  hunt, 
and  their  wives  at  home  must  observe  the  same  rule.2  Among 
the  Hehe,  another  tribe  of  Tanganyika,  while  the  hunters  are 

*  A.    Poupon,   "  £tude   ethnogra-      on  the  Hunting  Customs  of  the  Wand- 

S   q™,£es    a£a  .de  la  Description      amba  of  the  Ulanga  Valley,   Tan- 
du    M  bimon  »   m   L'Anthropologie,      ganyika  Territory/'  m  Journal  of  the 

•^'APS  *i07  *'  „  o          T  R°y*1  Anthropological  Institute,  Ivi. 

A.  G.  O.  Hodgson,  "  Some  Notes      (1926)  pp.  62  sq. 

I  MAGIC  23 

out  to  kill  elephants,  the  people  at  home  may  not  beat  each 
other  nor  break  firewood  nor  cut  their  hair,  for  they  say  that 
were  they  to  do  so  their  actions  would  harm  the  absent 
hunters.1  Among  the  Wachamba,  a  tribe  of  Usambara  in 
Central  Africa,  while  a  hunter  is  away  in  the  forest  his  wife  at 
home  is  bound  to  observe  all  the  magical  restrictions  which 
are  incumbent  also  upon  him.  She  remains  alone  for  weeks, 
and,  following  the  directions  of  a  medicine-man,  abstains  from 
doing  certain  things  which,  according  to  the  sage,  might 
bring  harm  upon  her  distant  spouse.  Thus  she  may  not  cut 
anything  in  the  house,  nor  place  her  bed  in  the  sun,  nor  shut 
her  house-door,  nor  flirt  with  other  men  or  have  intercourse 
with  a  stranger.  She  is  forbidden  to  receive  visits  from  men 
in  her  hut.  Only  her  closest  relations  may  feed  with  her.  If 
she  does  not  observe  these  restrictions,  it  is  believed  that  her 
husband  will  fall  ill  or  perish  in  the  forest.8 

Speaking  of  the  Bantu  tribes  of  Central  Africa  in  general, 
a  writer  who  lived  twenty-nine  years  among  them  tells  us  that 
"  hunter's  taboos  affect  also  the  hunter's  wife,  and  the  laws 
pertaining  to  success  in  the  chase  are  numerous  and  intricate. 
Inviolate  faithfulness  of  husband  and  wife  during  the  former's 
absence  in  the  hunting  field  is  one  of  the  first  and  most  im- 
portant laws  for  hunters  if  they  are  to  have  luck.  If  a  woman 
is  unfaithful  during  her  hunter  husband's  absence,  the  hunter 
is  exposed  to  failure,  danger  from  wild  animals,  and  even 
death.  If  the  elephant  charges  and  the  hunter  is  killed,  the 
woman  is  tried  for  murder  on  the  ground  of  concealed  adultery 
and  breaking  the  taboo,  and  is  at  once  executed,"  * 

Similar  practices  based  on  the  principle  of  magical  tele- 
pathy or  action  at  a  distance  are  reported  from  other  parts  of 
the  world.  Thus  among  the  Oraons  of  Chota  Nagpur  in 
India,  while  the  men  are  absent  from  the  village  on  the 
Summer  Hunt,  not  only  the  hunters  themselves,  but  their 
wives  at  home,  are  bound  to  observe  strict  sexual  continence. 
"  It  is  believed  that  if  this  taboo  is  disregarded  by  any  Oraon, 
male  or  female,  his  or  her  fellow-villagers,  or  at  any  rate  the 

1  O.    DempwolfF,    f*  Beitrage    zur  nis  der  Waschambaa,"  in  Bacssler* 

Volksbeschreibung    der    Hehe,"    in  ArMv,  iix.  (19x3)  p.  88. 

Baessler  Archiv,  iv.  (1914)  pp.  ifosg.  *  IX   Campbell,  In  the  Heart  of 

1  A.  Karasek,  "  Beitrage  sur  Kennt-  Bantulcnd  (London,  1922),  p.  94. 


members  of  hi?  or  her  family  who  have  joined  the  hunt,  are 
sure  to  have  ill-success  at  the  hunt.     Another  tahoo  which 
the  stay-at-home  Oraons  of  such  villages  have  to  observe  is 
that  they  must  not  kill,  beat,  or  even  purchase  any  eatable 
fowl  or  animal  so  long  as  the  hunters  are  away  from  home. 
An  interesting  feature  of  this  Summer  Hunt  is  that  so  long  as 
the  men  are  out  hunting,  the  Oraon  women  of  the  village 
behave  like  men.     Several  of  them  dress  like  men,  go  about 
with  men's  lathis  or  sticks  in  their  hands,  and  use  the  jargon 
of  the  males.    As  for  example,  they  say  to  each  other,  gucka 
ho  becha  ho  (come  along,  let  us  dance) — as  men  say  while 
talking  to  each  other,  instead  of  guchae  bechae  ho,  as  women 
ordinarily  say  to  each  other.     The  women  also  pose  as  men 
before  strangers  coming  to  or  passing  through  the  village,  and 
realise  drink-money  from  them  by  threatening  to  poke  them 
with  their  lathis.     Oraon  women  of  such  villages  are  by 
common  consent  allowed  at  this  period  perfect  liberty  to 
behave  in  this  way,  and  even  alien  landlords  and   police- 
officers  submit  to  their  demands   for  drink-money.     The 
utmost  license  of  speech  is  also  permitted  to  these  women,  and 
they  may  with  impunity  abuse  any  man  they  meet  in  the 
filthiest  language  they  choose.     During  these  days  the  women 
also  set  up  an  akhra  or  dancing-ground  for  themselves  in  the 
village.    This  akhra  is  called  the  chot  or  minor  akhra^  and 
here  the  women  dance  and  sing  till  a  late  hour  of  the  night  in 
the  manner  of  young  men.    If  during  these  days  any  Oraon 
woman  refuses  to  join  the  dances. at  the  Chot  akhra>  the  other 
women  pour  water  over  her  head,  poke  her  with  their  latkis^ 
and  finally  drag  her  by  force  to  the  dancing-ground.     The 
idea  seems  to  be  that  to  omit  the  village  dances  during  these 
nights  bodes  ill  for  the  village — and  perhaps  for  the  hunters 
too.    Two  motives  appear  to  lie  at  the  root  of  this  custom — 
first,  an  anxiety  to  let  the  outside  world  know  that  everything 
is  going  on  as  before  in  the  village  so  that  the  enemies  may 
not  know  that  the  fighting  people  of  the  village  are  away ; 
and,  secondly  and  principally,  the  superstition  that  if  the 
people  in  the  village  are  merry,  the  hunters  also  will,  by 
sympathetic  magic,  have  cause  to  be  merry.    After  they  have 
finished  their  dances  at  the  akhra^  the  women  approach  the 
houses  of  such  men  as  have  not  joined  the  hunting-party,  poke 

I  MAGIC  2$ 

their  lathis  at  the  doors  of  their  huts,  taunt  the  men  (except,  of 
course,  old  men  and  young  children)  as  womenly  cowards  and 
abuse  them  in  the  filthiest  language  they  can  think  of.  Before 
proceeding  to  the  akhra  they  generally  drive  away  these  stay- 
at-home  men  temporarily  from  the  village,  unless  they  have 
themselves  already  taken  care  to  keep  themselves  out  of 
their  way."  * 

Among  the  Moi,  a  primitive  people  of  Indo-China,  "  hunt- 
ing rites  are  numerous  and  for  the  most  part  rest  on  the  same 
conception  which  we  have  noticed  before  in  relation  to  other 
rites,  namely  the  belief  in  the  power  of  imitative  or  sympathetic 
magic.  Thus  a  hunter  never  eats  the  flesh  of  the  hare  or  deer 
for  fear  of  becoming  as  timorous  as  these  creatures.  This 
species  of  food  is  only  permitted  to  old  men,  women,  and 
children.  If  a  wild-boar  hunt  is  in  progress  the  hunters 
taking  part  must  abstain  from  fat  and  oil.  Without  this  pre- 
caution the  animal  would  undoubtedly  slip  through  the  meshes 
of  their  nets  and  escape  its  pursuers.  When  the  Laotians 
slaughter  elephants  for  the  sake  of  their  ivory  the  women  are 
absolutely  forbidden  to  cut  their  hair  or  nails,  otherwise  the 
monsters  would  infallibly  break  the  stakes  of  the  palisade  in 
which  they  are  entrapped/'  2  Among  the  Chams,  another 
people  of  Indo-China,  "  the  women  who  remain  behind  in  the 
village  are  strictly  forbidden  to  quarrel  among  themselves 
while  their  husbands  are  away  looking  for  eaglewood.  A 
breach  of  this  regulation  would  mean  that  the  men  would 
run  grave  risk  of  being  attacked  by  tigers  or  bitten  by 
serpents."  3 

Among  the  Kiwai  of  British  New  Guinea  a  man  may  not 
go  out  hunting  while  his  wife  is  in  childbed  or  menstruating, 
for  it  is  believed  that  were  he  to  do  so  he  would  be  killed  by 
a  pig  or  a  shark,  or  meet  with  some  other  calamity.  The 
blood  flowing  from  his  wound  is  associated  by  sympathetic 
magic  with  that  of  his  wife.  If  a  woman  has  intercourse  with 
another  man  while  her  husband  is  away  hunting,  it  is  believed 
that  the  absent  spouse  will  meet  with  nothing  but  ill-luck.4 

1  S.  C.  Roy,  The  Oraons  of  Chota  *  Ibid.  p.  305. 

Nagpur  (Ranchi,  1915),  pp.  231  $qq.  *  G.      Landtman,      The      Kiwai 

3  C,  Baudesson,  Indo-China  audits  Papuans    of    British    New    Guinea 

Primitive  Inhabitants (London) ,p,  135.  (London,  1927),  pp. 


The  same  people  hunt  dugong  by  harpooning  them  in  the  sea, 
and  during  their  absence  the  people  at  home  have  to  observe 
certain  precautions  for  ensuring  the  success  of  the  harpooners 
at  sea.     These  have  been  described  by  Professor  Landtman 
as  follows  :  "  When,  after  a  successful  expedition  to  the  reefs, 
a  dugong  is  being  cut  up,  the  harpooner  secures  the  skin  of  its 
face,  including  the  nostrils  and  the  neck.     The  piece  of  skin 
is  stretched  between  splints  of  bamboo  and  dried.     Part  of  the 
windpipe  is  fastened  at  the  mouth,  and  at  the  lower  end  of  the 
skin  a  bunch  of  magical  herbs.     The  skin  is  hung  on  a  stick 
by  a  string  passed  through  the  nostrils.     Before  leaving  for 
the  reefs  the  owner  obtains  a  little  of  the  manababa  plant  from 
his  wife  (she  has  held  it  for  a  while  in  her  vulva),  and  some  of 
it  he  chews  and  spits  upon  the  skin.     The  rest  is  kept  in  the 
hole  of  the  harpoon-shaft,  and  part  of  the  same  medicine  he 
will  later  on  chew  and  blow  out  upon  the  first  pole  (mast)  to 
be  used  for  the  harpooning  platform.     The  skin  is  called 
momoro  wodi  ("  dugong  nose  ").     Sometimes  several  skins 
are  hung  up  outside  the  same  longhouse  by  different  people. 
The  lower  jaw  of  a  dugong  recently  caught  is  hooked  on  to 
each  skin.    The  skin  is  supposed  to  bring  success  to  the 
harpooners.     No  one  at  home  goes  near  it.     It  would  be  very 
bad  if  one  of  the  children  should  happen  to  touch  the  skin  and 
cause  it  to  move  :   '  suppose  push  him  like  that,  face  he  go 
other  way— dugong  he  go  too,  clear  out/     During  the  night 
the  harpooner's  wife  watches  the  skin  from  the  door  in  the 
moonlight.     If  the  thing  stirs  of  its  own  accord,  she  will 
rejoice,  for  it  means  that  her  husband  is  at  the  very  moment 
spearing  a  dugong.    The  wind  is  supposed  not  to  be  able  to 
move  the  skin,  on  account  of  the  shortness  of  the  string  with 
which  it  is  attached.     It  is  important  that  the  stick  on  which 
it  hangs  should  lean  over  a  little  in  the  direction  of  the  reefs, 
indicating  the  spot  towards  which  the  dugong  should  betake 
themselves.     Hunting  in  the  bush  or  by  canoe  under  sail- 
that  is  nothing  (it  is  not  so  difficult),  say  the  natives.     If  the 
game  is  not  to  be  found  in  one  place,  the  hunters  are  at  liberty 
to  look  for  it  anywhere  else  they  choose.     Not  so  the  har- 
pooner on  the  platform.     He  remains  stationary,  and  it  is  the 
dugong  which  must  be  induced  to  go  to  him.     Hence  the 
many  rigorous  observances  required  in  that  kind  of  hunting. 

I  MAGIC  27 

While  the  harpooners  are  out  on  the  reefs,  the  people  at  home 
must  observe  certain  very  strict  rules  of  conduct  in  order  not 
to  jeopardize  the  others'  luck,  but  also  to  assist  them  in  a 
positive  way.     The  dugong  will  be  frightened  away  if  fire- 
wood is  cut  or  coconuts  are  broken  close  to  the  house  (par- 
ticularly in  the  evening,  when  the  harpooners  have  mounted 
the  platform).     That  kind  of  work  must  be  performed  some 
distance  off  in  the  bush.     No  drum  must  be  heard  in  the 
village,  nor  any  noise  ;  the  people  at  home  must  keep  just  as 
quiet  as  the  crews  waiting  in  the  canoes.     Sometimes  all  the 
young  people  are  sent  away  from  the  village,  so  as  not  to 
'  move  '  the  house  by  any  chance.     They  go  and  camp  at 
some  suitable  place,  while  only  the  old  people  remain  at  home. 
On  the  other  hand,  it  is  regarded  as  a  lucky  sign  if  a  baby 
cries  during  such  a  night.     This  means  that  a  dugong  is  just 
being  speared.     The  people  seem  to  think  that  the  spirit  of 
the  dugong  comes  to  the  child,  and  the  pricking  of  the  animal's 
whiskers  on  its  face  and  body  makes  the  baby  cry.     No 
women  must  quarrel  while  their  husbands  are  harpooning, 
for  the  spirits  of  the  women  too  are  thought  to  participate  in 
the  fight,  causing  a  noise  which  will  be  heard  by  the  dugong. 
The  worst  is  if  a  man  '  steals  '  the  wife  of  a  harpooner  at  home, 
for  it  is  from  her  body  that  the  husband  has  obtained  the 
medicines  essential  for  success.     '  Suppose  man  he  humbug 
that  room  (where  the  medicines  come  from)  he  shut  him  door 
belong  dugong,  all  same  shut  him  door.'     While  the  har- 
pooner is  away,  his  wife  will  in  the  daytime  wear  her  grass 
skirt  very  loosely  tied  on,  and  for  the  night  she  takes  it  off 
entirely  and  sleeps  nude.     Sometimes  in  the  night  she  lies 
down  naked  on  her  back  at  the  door  through  which  her 
husband  has  passed  out,  holding  her  feet  widely  apart,  one 
at  each  doorpost.     This  causes  the  dugong  to  come.     Some 
women  refrain  from  lighting  a  fire  while  their  husbands  are 
away  harpooning,  lest  they  should  burn  their  hand — a  bad 
thing,  for  it  is  with  that  hand  that  they  have  passed  the  valu- 
able medicines  to  the  men.     All  the  harpooners  recognize  the 
important  services  rendered  them  by  their  wives,  and  for  this 
reason  they  take  care  to  let  their  relatives  by  marriage  have  a 
share  in  the  dugong  meat.     During  the  absence  of  the  har- 
pooners on  the  reefs  some  old  man  at  home  may  assist  them 

28  MAGIC 


by  means  of  a  certain  rite,  which  he  performs  on  the  village 
beach.  He  walks  along  the  water's  edge  by  himself  in  the 
night  chewing  some  manababa>  which  he  spits  into  the  water 
uttering  certain  incantations.  Providing  himself  with  a 
bough  of  the  warakara  tree,  he  steps  out  into  the  sea  and 
repeatedly  makes  a  sweeping  gesture  with  the  bough  in  the 
water  towards  himself,  after  which  he  throws  the  bough  on 
to  the  beach  and  leaves  it  there.  At  the  same  time  he  calls 
on  all  the  dugong  to  come  to  the  harpooners,  and  names  all 
the  islands  whence  the  animals  should  muster  at  the  reef  where 
the  harpooners  are  waiting.  He  also  asks  certain  spirits  to 
bring  the  dugong  there."  l 

In  Samoa  "  when  a  boat  belonging  to  any  family  was 
fishing  for  bonito  or  sharks  it  was  forbidden  to  mention  the 
names  of  the  fishermen  by  the  people  on  shore,  as  if  they 
were  talked  about  they  would  get  no  fish.  I  do  not 
know  whether  the  people  believed  that  the  aitus  or  spirits 
would  hear  the  conversation  and  report  it.  If  any  person 
came  to  the  house  of  a  family  from  which  some  of  the 
members  had  gone  on  a  fishing  expedition  and  were  to 
ask  where  they  were,  they  would  be  told  that  they  were 
'looking  aside  '  (faasangaese).  It  was  also  forbidden  to 
untie  any  bundles  of  native  cloth  or  mats  in  the  house,  or 
to  lift  up  the  nut  blinds  nearest  to  the  sea  whilst  the  boats 
were  out.  It  was  also  forbidden  to  wash  a  bonito  on  the 
beach  on  such  occasions  ;  whilst  the  fact  of  the  chief  being 
angry,  or  one  of  the  men's  wives  being  sulky  or  scolding  in 
his  absence,  was  quite  sufficient  to  account  for  the  fishing 
party  being  unsuccessful.  "  2 

Even  in  England  there  may  be  found  traces  of  this  primi- 
tive belief,  that  the  good  luck  of  fishermen  at  sea  can  through 
sympathetic  magic  be  directly  influenced  by  the  conduct  of 
their  wives  at  home.  At  Flamborough  In  Yorkshire,  "  we 
have  the  custom  of  Raising  Herrings.  It  is  believed  that  a 
good  fishing  season  will  surely  follow  this  ceremony.  When 
the  men  are  at  sea,  the  wives  and  other  women  disguise  them- 


,  and  with  music  and  laughter  go  about  the  village 

r  n  ,.,  !  Landtma&.  op-  eit.  pp 

G.  Bwwn,  Melanesia*:  md  fo 



visiting  the  houses  of  their  neighbours,  and  receiving  alms  or 

Savages  commonly  suppose  that  a  magical  sympathy  or 
telepathy  exists  between  absent  men  and  their  families, 
especially  their  wives,  at  home,  not  only  in  seasons  of  hunting 
and  fishing,  but  also  in  times  of  war,  and  among  them  accord- 
ingly wives  at  home  are  bound  to  observe  at  such  times  certain 
rules  of  conduct  for  the  purpose  of  ensuring  the  safety  and 
victory  of  the  absent  warriors.  Thus,  among  the  Banyoro, 
a  large  and  important  tribe  of  Uganda,  in  time  of  war  it  was 
incumbent  upon  all  wives  who  were  left  behind  to  live  chaste 
lives,  to  make  offerings  to  the  gods,  and  to  abstain  from 
cutting  their  hair,  and  to  put  away  all  vessels  used  by  their 
husbands  until  they  returned.  Should  a  wife  shave  her  head 
during  her  husband's  absence  on  an  expedition  and  he  be 
wounded  or  killed,  she  would  be  blamed  as  the  cause,  and  the 
heir  to  the  property  would  send  her  back  to  her  relatives  and 
claim  the  original  marriage  fee ;  and  she  would  find  it  difficult 
to  obtain  a  husband  in  the  future.  Should  a  warrior  strike 
his  foot  against  a  tree  root  or  against  a  stone,  he  would 
attribute  the  cause  of  the  accident  to  his  wife  who,  he  would 
say,  was  going  about  visiting  and  enjoying  herself,  instead 
of  making  offerings  to  the  gods  to  protect  him.3 

Among  the  Baganda,  the  most  important  tribe  of  Uganda, 
when  a  man  was  setting  forth  to  war  his  wife  would  accom- 
pany him  for  about  a  mile.  "  There  the  wife  would  kneel 
down  by  the  roadside  to  bid  her  husband  farewell ;  she  would 
hand  him  his  weapons,  and  they  would  exchange  necklaces, 
and  take  leave  of  each  other,  the  wife  committing  her  husband 
to  the  care  of  the  gods.  She  \vould  stand  and  watch  her 
husband  out  of  sight,  and  then  pluck  some  grass  from  the 
roadside  at  the  spot  where  they  had  taken  leave  of  each  other; 
this  she  would  carry  back  with  her  to  her  house,  and  put  it 
under  the  grass  with  which  the  house  was  carpeted,  near  the 
main  post,  and  there  it  would  be  kept  until  her  husband 
returned.  The  necklace  would  be  placed  with  the  fetishes, 

1  County  Folk-Lore,  vi.,  East  Rid-  ron  Wulden,  1880),  p,  143. 
ing  of  Yorkshire  (London  1912),  p.  25, 

quoting  A,   H.  Armytagc*  in  Flam-  *  J.  Roscoe,  Tke  Northern  Bantu 

borough^  Village  and  Headland  (Saff-  (Cambridge,  1915),  p.  82, 


and  each  day  she  would  offer  a  little  beer  to  them  and  pray, 
saying,  '  My  husband  is  at  war,  take  care  of  him/     The 
warrior's  friend,  who  had  care  of  his  wife,  would  tell  her 
from  time  to  time  what  offerings  she  should  bring,  that  he 
might  take  them  to  the  priest,  and  obtain  the  latter's  inter- 
cession on  behalf  of  the  warrior.     If  a  wife  was  negligent  in 
these  duties,  or  if  she  allowed  any  other  man  to  make  love  to 
her,  and  was  unfaithful,  it  was  believed  that  her  husband 
would  fall,  or  at  least  be  wounded  in  battle,  because  the 
gods  resented  her  behaviour,  and  withdrew  their  favour  and 
protection  from  him.  .  „  .  Should   the  wife  be  a  woman 
who  never  menstruated,  the  husband,  when  taking  leave  of 
her,  would  scratch  her  with  his  spear,  sufficiently  to  draw 
blood,  and  this  would  ensure  his  safe  return.     From  the 
time  that  the  warrior  left  his  wife,  he  observed  the  rule  of 
chastity  until  after  the  first  battle  was  fought,  or  at  least  until 
the  army  had  taken  some  spoil ;    negligence  in  this  respect 
would  be  fraught  with  grave  disaster  to  his  home  and  his 
children,  or  his  wife  would  die,  and  the  expedition  would  also 
be  a  failure/'  *    In  this  account,  which  I  have  borrowed  from 
Canon  Roscoe's  classic  work  on  the  Baganda,  the  prayers  and 
offerings  of  the  wife  to  the  gods  for  her  absent  husband  are 
purely  religious,  not  magical.     Here,  as  in  so  many  cases, 
magic  is  reinforced  by  religion.     Otherwise   the  relations 
between  the  Baganda  husband  and  wife,  particularly  in  the 
matter  of  mutual  conjugal  fidelity,  are  strictly  magical,  based 
on  the  principle  of  telepathy.    With  regard  to  mutual  conjugal 
fidelity  Canon  Roscoe  tells  us  elsewhere  that  "  when  a  warrior 
returned  home,  his  principal  wife  went  out  to  meet  him, 
relieved  him  of  his  weapons,  and  gave  him  a  gourd  of  water  * 
some  of  this  water  he  drank  before  entering  his  house.     If  his 
wife  had  been  unfaithful  during  his  absence  at  the  war  the 
water  was  supposed  to  cause  him  to  fall  ill,  and  so  the 
wife  s  unfaithfulness  was  discovered.    Accordingly,  if  the 
husband  fell  ill,  the  wife  was  promptly  put  into  the  stocks 
and  tried ;   if  she  then  confessed  her  guilt,  and  named  the 
man  with  whom  she  had  done  wrong,  the  latter  was  heavily 
fined,  or  even  put  to  death."    With  regard  to  the  conduct  of 
persons  at  home  m  time  of  war,  Canon  Roscoe  tells  us  further 

1  J.  Roscoe,  The  Baganda  (London,  1915),  p.  353. 

I  MAGIC  31 

that  "  during  the  time  that  a  punitive  expedition  was  away, 
no  one  who  was  left  behind  was  allowed  to  kill  a  sheep,  but 
only  goats  or  cows  might  be  killed.  The  penalty  for  killing 
a  sheep  was  confiscation  of  the  man's  property  ;  the  reason 
given  for  this  custom  is  that  those  left  behind  were  looked 
upon  as  women,  and  that  accordingly  the  meat  of  the  sheep 
was  taboo  to  them.  No  man  was  allowed  to  enter  the  house 
of  a  woman  whose  husband  was  absent,  if  the  wife  was  sitting 
in  the  doorway  ;  nor  might  a  wife  touch  any  man's  clothing, 
for,  if  she  did  so,  it  would  bring  misfortune  on  her  husband's 
weapons  and  might  even  cost  him  his  life.  The  gods  were 
thought  to  be  very  particular  about  women  observing  the 
taboos  during  their  husbands'  absence,  and  having  nothing  to 
do  with  men.  A  man's  principal  wife  was  responsible  to  him 
for  the  conduct  of  his  other  wives  ;  he  tested  her  chastity  on 
his  return  home,  by  the  water  test  described  above,  and  if  she 
was  found  faithful,  her  word  was  accepted  for  the  conduct  of 
the  others."  l 

Among  the  Agni,  a  tribe  of  the  Ivory  Coast  in  West  Africa, 
when  the  men  of  a  village  have  gone  forth  to  war,  leaving  only 
the  aged  and  infirm  men  and  the  women  and  children  behind, 
all  the  women  in  the  village  paint  their  faces,  breasts,  and  limbs 
with  white  clay  dipped  in  water.  The  paintings  consist  in 
bands,  either  vertical  or  horizontal,  and  in  diverse  drawings 
which  seem  to  be  left  to  individual  tastes.  Especially  the  clay 
is  smeared  round  both  eyes.  Thus  decorated  the  women 
assemble  in  the  central  place  of  the  village,  either  of  their 
own  accord  or  at  the  order  of  the  old  men  who  are  left  at 
home.  They  take  each  a  stick,  which  is  called  a  gun,  and 
fall  into  line  at  the  order  of  the  oldest  wife  of  the  chief  of  the 
village.  Thus  decorated  and  armed  they  execute  a  series  of 
very  animated  dances,  running  from  one  end  of  the  village  to 
the  other.  The  woman  who  commands  them  incites  them 


continually  to  fresh  efforts,  singing  very  licentious  and  filthy 
songs,  directed  in  abuse  of  the  chief  of  the  enemy,  and  in 
praise  of  their  own  chief  and  his  warriors.  These  refrains  are 
repeated  by  the  dancers  without  the  accompaniment  of  any 
musical  instrument.  The  wife  of  the  chief  and  the  old  men 
take  particular  care  that  the  women  do  not  pronounce  the 

1  J.  Rdsroe,  The  Baganda,  pp.  362  sqq* 


name  of  any  who  are  not  directly  concerned  in  the  war. 
The  dances  consist  of  rapid  marches,  analogous  in  cadence 
and  rhythm  to  the  war  dances  of  the  men.  The  ceremony 
ends  with  a  rush  of  the  women  to  the  gate  of  the  village  from 
which  the  men  went  forth  to  war.  There  they  brandish  their 
spears  and  make  derisory  gestures  in  the  direction  of  the  chief 
of  the  enemy  and  addressed  to  him.  After  that  the  dancers 
resume  their  domestic  duties,  having  laid  down  their  sticks 
but  retaining  their  body-paintings,  which  they  do  not  remove 
until  after  the  return  of  the  warriors  to  the  village.  After- 
wards, whenever  their  domestic  duties  permit  of  it,  and 
especially  when  they  hear  the  shots  of  the  warriors  in  the 
distance,  they  resume  their  dances  and  songs.  All  the  time 
that  these  ceremonies  last  the  women  are  supposed  to  be 
transformed  into  men.  Each  of  them  is  called  by  the  name 
of  her  husband,  her  brother,  or  her  son,  and  the  sticks 
which  they  carry  are  called  rifles.  When  the  dancers  are 
tired,  they  sit  on  the  earth,  and  converse  among  themselves 
in  the  manner  of  men,  addressing  one  another  in  salutations 
otherwise  reserved  for  the  male  sex.  The  wife  of  the  chief 
brings  a  jar  of  water,  which,  for  the  occasion,  is  thought  to 
be  palm-wine.  One  of  the  women  supports  the  jar  on  her 
left  thigh,  and  from  it  pours  the  water  into  a  goblet,  which  she 
holds  in  her  right  hand.  From  the  goblet  she  first  pours  water 
on  the  ground  as  a  libation  to  Mother  Earth  and  the  spirits  of 
the  dead  buried  in  the  village.  Then  she  fills  the  goblet  a 
second  time  and  passes  it  to  the  wife  of  the  chief,  who  in  her 
turn  pours  some  drops  as  a  libation  on  the  ground,  then  drinks 
the  rest  of  the  water  in  the  manner  of  men,  allowing  some  of 
the  liquid  to  drip  at  each  extremity  of  the  mouth  and  imitating 
the  grimace  which  men  make  at  drinking  strong  liquor. 
Afterwards  each  of  the  women  receives  the  goblet  and  drinks 
the  water  in  the  same  manner.  When  all  have  drunk,  the 
woman  who  has  been  pouring  out  spills  what  remains  of  the 
water  on  the  earth,  and  addressing  the  wife  of  the  chief,  says, 
^  Father  so-and-so,  I  thank  you/'  It  is  notable  that  except 
in  these  circumstances  the  women  never  drink  in  this  manner, 
which  is  absolutely  special  to  men.  After  drinking,  the 
women  talk  among  themselves,  continually  addressing  each 
other  m  the  names  of  men,  each  of  them  recounting  their 

1  MAGIC  33 

supposed  warlike  exploits,  telling,  for  example,  how  many 
prisoners  they  made,  and  giving  the  most  precise  details  of 
their  imaginary  prowess.  Then  at  the  order  of  the  chiefs 
wife  the  dances  and  songs  begin  again,  to  last  the  whole  day 
and  a  good  part  of  the  night,  with  the  exception  of  intervals 
just  noted  and  such  as  were  consecrated  to  domestic  work. 
During  these  last  intervals,  the  comedy  of  sexual  inversion 
ceases,  and  women  resume  their  ordinary  names.  This  cus- 
tom constitutes  for  the  women  at  once  an  amusement  and  a 
duty.  On  the  one  hand,  the  women  take  the  greatest  pleasure 
in  this  sort  of  comedy,  and  in  the  songs  and  talk  which  it 
authorizes  :  it  suffices  to  observe  the  happy  expression  which 
they  wear  during  the  ceremony  and  the  zest  with  which  they 
afterwards  recount  its  incidents.  The  occasions  of  it  are  not 
very  frequent.  On  the  other  hand,  the  ceremony  is  obliga- 
tory. Whenever  the  women  show  any  slackness  or  reluctance 
to  begin  the  dances,  they  are  urged  on  to  them  by  the  old 
men,  "  The  men  are  fighting  ;  you  must  perform  the  cere- 
mony." If  they  hear  rifle-shots,  the  old  men  call  to  the 
women  to  dance  faster  and  to  sing  more  loudly.  If  the 
warriors,  on  returning  from  battle,  learn  that  the  women 
have  not  devoted  all  the  time  at  their  disposal  to  performing 
the  ceremony,  they  reproach  and  abuse  them.  And  if  they 
return  defeated,  they  do  not  hesitate  to  allege  that  the  defeat 
is  due  to  the  failure  of  the  women  to  perform  the  ceremony 
at  the  moment  of  battle.  This  custom  is  based  on  the  belief 
that  victory  will  fall  to  the  side  of  those  whose  wives  danced 
and  sang  the  most,  and  above  all  danced  and  sang  at  the  very 
moment  of  battle.  That  is  why  the  dances  are  redoubled 
when  the  rifle-shots  are  heard.  And  that  is  why,  when  the 
fighting  takes  place  at  too  great  a  distance  for  the  sound  of  it 
to  be  heard  in  the  village,  it  is  necessary  for  the  dancing  and 
singing  to  continue  all  day  long,  with  the  briefest  possible 
intervals,  in  order  to  ensure  that  the  actual  moment  of 
combat  should  not  coincide  with  a  cessation  of  the  dances 
and  songs.1  It  might  be  difficult  to  find  a  stronger  proof  of 
savage  faith  in  the  telepathy  of  war.  These  savages  apparently 
think  that  victory  in  battle  depends  more  upon  the  women  at 

1  M.    Delafosse,    *'  Coutumes    ob-       guerre/*  in  Revue  d*  Ethnographic  et 
•crvees  par  les  famines  en  temps  dc      tie  Sociofogi*,  iv,  (i9*3)  PP« 


home  than  upon  the  men  in  the  field. 

Among  the  Efiks  of  Southern  Nigeria,  "  as  night  fell  on 
the  day  when  Efik  warriors  left  the  town,  the  wives  who 
remained  behind  used  to  go  to  their  sleeping-rooms  and  there 
don  the  garments  of  their  absent  lords.     With  this  clothing 
the  head  wife  also  took  the  name  of  her  husband,  and  while 
the  ceremony  lasted  might  call  herself,  or  be  addressed,  by  no 
other.    Once  clad  in  this  strange  attire,  the  women  sallied 
forth  to  visit  the  chief  compounds  of  the  town,  drinking  palm 
wine,  laughing  and  jesting  at  each.     No  matter  how  heavy 
and  anxious  might  be  the  hearts  beneath  this  manly  guise, 
they  dared  not  show  the  least  anxiety,  but  must  appear  happy 
and  brave,  that  by  sympathetic  magic  the  courage  of  their 
absent  husbands  should  be  upheld.     The  ceremony  was 
called  '  Ikom  Be,}  and  it  was  most  strictly  forbidden  that  any 
man  should  witness  it ;  for  this  also  was  among  the  women's 
mysteries,  and  destruction  would  have  fallen  upon  the  race 
should  any  male  have  profaned  the  rites  by  his  presence.     All 
night  long  the  women  danced  round  the  town  to  prove  their 
courage  and  endurance.     Only  after  dawnbreak  might  they 
creep  back  to  rest,  and  even  then  tears  were  forbidden  lest 
indulgence  in  such  weakness  might  magically  affect  their 
absent  lords — turning  to  water  their  hearts  within  their  breasts 
and  causing  their  strength  to  melt  away." l    Another  account 
of  the  Efik  customs  runs  thus  :  "  Among  the  Efik  during  the 
absence  of  the  fighting  men,  the  women  used  to  march  about 
the  town  making  a  martial  display  with  swords  and  guns, 
singing  boastful  war  songs  and  keeping  up  their  spirits  gener- 
ally, so  that  the  souls  of  their  warriors  in  the  field  might  be 
sympathetically  encouraged.     Each  wore  the  clothing  of  her 
absent  lord  and  also  took  his  name,  and  might  be  addressed 
by  no  other  during  the  ceremony,  which  was  called  Ikom  Be, 
and  might  not  be  witnessed  by  any  male  or  destruction  would 
fall  upon  the  town."  2    The  analogy  of  this  Efik  custom  to  the 
custom  of  the  Agni  on  the  Ivory  Coast  described  above  is  close 
and  obvious. 

Among  the  Ijaw  of  Southern  Nigeria,  while  the  men  were 

*  D.  A.  Talbot,  Women's  Mystenes          *  P.   A.   Talbot,    The  JPeopk*  of 
of  a  Primitive  People  (London,  1915),      Southern  Nigeria,  iii.  846* 
pp.  191  jy. 

I  MAGIC  35 

away  at  the  war,  the  women  at  home  had  to  keep  up  a  bold 
and  happy  appearance,  and  had  to  offer  sacrifices  to  the 
fetishes.  Every  day  they  spread  the  tables  with  the  favourite 
dishes  of  their  absent  husbands  so  that  the  souls  of  the 
warriors  might  not  be  driven  by  hunger  to  partake  of  the 
ensnaring  feasts  of  the  enemy's  magician.1  Among  the  Ibo 
of  the  same  region  a  wife  had  to  remain  strictly  chaste  during 
the  absence  of  her  husband  at  the  war.  Her  infidelity  might 
affect  the  war  medicines  of  her  husband,  and  cause  him  to  be 
wounded  or  killed,2 

Among  the  Bantu  people  of  Southern  Nigeria,  while  the 
men  were  away  at  the  war  their  wives  at  home  were  for- 
bidden to  wash,  and  they  remained  very  quiet  and  anxious, 
and  held  no  festivities  of  any  kind.  If  any  of  them  during 
this  time  had  illicit  intercourse,  it  was  believed  that  her 
husband  would  surely  be  killed,  and  if  any  of  them  had 
previously  sinned  in  this  way  and  had  not  confessed  her  fault 
before  his  departure,  it  was  believed  that  he  would  incur 
great  danger  and  would  hear  a  shot  whistle  by  his  ears.  If 
he,  after  all,  returned  in  safety,  he  would  sell  his  faithless  wife 
into  another  country.3 

Among  the  Bangala  of  the  Upper  Congo,  "  when  men 
went  to  fight  distant  towns  their  wives  were  expected  not  to 
commit  adultery  with  such  men  as  were  left  in  the  town,  or 
their  husbands  would  receive  spear  wounds  from  the  enemy. 
The  sisters  of  the  fighters  would  take  every  precaution  to 
guard  against  the  adultery  of  their  brothers'  wives  while  they 
were  on  the  expedition. "  4  Among  the  I  la-speaking  tribes  of 
Northern  Rhodesia  "  the  women  were  instructed  to  remain 
chaste  while  their  husbands  were  away  fighting,  lest  harm 
should  befall  them.  They  were  also  forbidden  to  throw  any- 
thing at  one  another,  for  fear  lest  their  relations  should  be 
speared,  or  to  imitate  any  kind  of  blow.  They  were  also 
forbidden  to  dance,  the  period  until  the  safe  return  of  the 
warriors  was  assured  being  one  rather  for  mourning  than 
for  rejoicing.'** 

1  P.  A.  Talbot,  op.  tit*  iii.  835.  the  Royal  Anthropological  Institute, 

»  P.  A.  Talbot,  op.  tit.  iii.  842.  ad.  (1910)  p.  413. 

*  P.  A.  Talbot,  op.  tit.  w.  856,  *  E.  W.  Smith  and  A.  M.  Dale, 

*J.    H.    Weeks,    Among    Congo  The  Ila-speaking  Peoples  of  Northern 

,  p.  224  ;   *#.  in  Journal  9  Rhodesia  (London,  1920),  i.  176, 


Among  the  Thonga  or  Ronga  of  South-east  Africa  in  time 
of  war  "  the  whole  clan  is  subjected  to  many  taboos.  Those 
who  remain  at  home  must  keep  quiet.  No  noise  must  be 
heard  in  the  villages.  The  women  must  not  close  the  doors 
of  the  huts.  It  is  taboo  :  their  husbands  might  meet  with 
'  bitterness  '  (shibitf).  They  might  lack  strength  to  run 
away.  Fires  must  be  lit  in  the  huts  in  the  evening  in  order 
that  the  warriors  might  *  have  light  '  where  they  are.  It  is 
taboo  to  omit  this  precaution.  Work  in  the  fields  must  be 
more  or  less  suspended  ;  women  may  attend  to  it  in  the  morn- 
ing only,  before  the  heat  of  the  day,  while  the  air  is  still  fresh. 
'  Then,  if  the  warrior  has  stepped  on  a  thorn,  the  thorn  will 
be  cool  ;  if  he  has  knocked  against  a  stump,  the  stump  will 
be  quiet  and  not  hurt  him,'  (Mboza).  Old  men  who  remain 
at  home  must  keep  watch,  and  if  they  see  a  messenger  coming 
they  follow  him  to  the  chief,  Should  he  bring  bad  news, 
they  do  not  inform  the  women,  as  it  is  taboo  to  mourn  over 
warriors  before  the  return  of  the  army.  A  fine  is  imposed 
upon  those  who  contravene  this  law.  It  is  taboo  also  to  have 
sexual  relations  as  long  as  the  army  is  on  the  warpath*  This 
would  cause  thorns  to  hurt  the  warriors,  and  they  would  be 
defeated."  l 

Among  the  Khetran  Baloch  of  Baluchistan  in  olden  days 
the  women  were  strictly  forbidden  to  grind  corn  on  their 
handmills  when  the  men  were  out  on  a  raid,  because  they 
believed  that  the  noise  of  the  grinding  would  cause  confusion 
in  the  ranks  of  the  raiders.2  Among  the  Dusuns  of  the 
Tuaran  and  Tempassuk  districts  of  British  North  Borneo, 
"  when  their  men  are  on  the  warpath  their  women  must  not 
weave  cloth  or  their  husbands  will  be  unable  to  escape  from 
the  enemy,  because  they  would  become  uncertain  in  which 
direction  to  run.  In^the  weaving  of  cloth  the  backwards  and 
forwards  movement  of  the  shuttle  represents  the  uncertain 
movements  of  a  man  running  first  to  one  side  and  then  to 
another,  in  order  to  escape  from  an  enemy.  Women  may  not 
eat  from  the  winnowing  basket  ;  for  the  edges  of  it  represent 
mountains,  over  which  their  men  would  not  be  able  to  climb, 

.  The  Life  of  a  South          «  Denys  Bray,  Ethnographic  Sur- 
(London,    2nd    edit,      vey  of  Baluchistan  (Bombay,   1913), 
.  470-  1.63. 

I  MAGIC  37 

The  women  must  not  sit  sprawling  about,  or  with  their  legs 
crossed,  else  their  husbands  will  not  have  strength  for  any- 
thing.    On  the  other  hand  it  is  lucky  for  the  women  to  keep 
walking  about,  for  then  the  men  will  have  strength  to  walk  far. "  * 
Among  the  Toradyas  of  Central  Celebes,  while  the  men 
are  away  on  a  raid  certain  taboos  must  be  observed  by  the 
friends  of  the  absent  warriors.     The  house  must  be  kept  clean. 
The  sleeping-mat  of  the  absent  man  may  not  be  rolled  up,  but 
must  be  hung  over  a  stick.     The  wife  and  the  nearest  relatives 
may  not  leave  the  house  by  night.     Many  sticks  are  burned 
to  make  a  light  during  the  whole  night.     No  cooking-pot 
may  be  lent  out.     The  wife  may  not  wash  her  hair,  nor  seek 
for  lice  upon  her  head.     She  may  not  dance  or  pay  visits. 
The  origin  of  these  taboos  lies  in  the  belief  that  the  soul  of  the 
absent  warrior  can  suddenly  return  to  the  house.     In  such  a 
case  he  must  find  everything  in  order.     He  must  not  see 
anything  to  make  him  uneasy  or  restless,  since  the  body  of 
the  warrior  is  affected  by  all  the  emotions  of  his  soul,  and  he 
might  thereby  be  made  unfit  before  the  battle.     There  were 
also  other  taboos  which  aimed  at  a  sympathetic  effect.     Thus 
the  wife  may  not  leave  off  her  bark-cape  (baadje\  her  head- 
dress, or  her  head-band  in  her  sleep,  so  that  her  husband  in 
the  battle  should  not  lose  his  head-dress,  whereby  his  long 
hair  would  fall  over  his  face  and  blind  him.     During  his 
absence  she  might  not  sew  or  handle  anything  in  which  there 
were  thorns,  nor  pleat  mats  with pandanus  leaves,  whose  edges 
were  beset  with  thorns.     For  if  she  did  so  her  husband,  on  the 
day  when  he  came  face  to  face  with  the  enemy,  would  feel 
pain  in  the  soles  of  his  feet.     In  order  that  this  should  not 
happen  the  wife,  every  evening  and  morning,  strewed  the 
floor  of  her  house  with  certain  leaves,  lest  the  soul  of  her 
husband  should  come  to  grief  in  this  way.    The  wives  also 
continually  carry  about  small  branches  of  the  waro-waro,  a 
plant  whose  pods  are  very  light  and  easily  wafted  by  the  wind. 
The  waro-waro  is  the  symbol  of  agility,  and  the  carrying  of  it 
by  their  wives  at  home,  must,  by  sympathetic  magic,  make  the 
warriors  agile  in  their  movements.     The  names  of  the  absent 

1  I.  H.  N.  Evans,  "  Notes  on  the      the  Royal  Anthropological  Institute^ 
Religion,  Beliefs,  etc.,  of  the  Dusuns,      xlii.  (1912)  p,  392  sq. 
British  North  Borneo,"  in  Journal 


men  may  never  be  mentioned  by  those  who  remain  at  home : 
a  mention  of  his  name  would  lure  the  soul  of  the  absent 
warrior  back  to  the  house,  leaving  his  body  without  strength 
for  the  fight.  Similar  rules  are  observed  by  any  young  girl 
who  has  given  her  bark-cape  or  her  head-dress  to  a  young  man 
who  has  gone  off  to  war.1 

Among  the  Kiwai  of  British  New  Guinea  it  is  deemed  very 
important  that  the  people  who  remain  at  home  while  their 
friends  are  absent  on  a  raid  should  observe  certain  rules  of 
conduct,  for  their  conduct  is  believed  materially  to  affect  the 
raiders  and  the  expedition.     "  In  the  absence  of  the  warriors 
the  few  old  women  who  are  associated  with  every  man's  house 
must  keep  some  fires  burning  in  the  house  in  order  to  keep  it 
warm,  or  defeat  is  sure  to  follow.     The  whole  village  must  be 
kept  quiet,  for  otherwise  the  enemy  will  be  warned  pre- 
maturely (as  if  hearing  the  noise)  and  run  away.     Therefore 
the  women  at  home  do  only  the  most  necessary  work.     They 
also  have  to  restrict  themselves  to  certain  kinds  of  food.     Fish 
and  turtle  are  forbidden  on  account  of  the  shyness  of  these 
animals,  but  dugong  may  be  eaten,  for  they  do  not  flee  away 
so  easily.     Coconuts  must  not  be  husked  or  broken  near  the 
house,  only  in  the  bush,  in  order  to  avoid  noise.     A  woman 
must  not  even  wail  if  she  feels  sad,  thinking  of  her  absent 
husband."     It  is  particularly  disastrous  if  any  man  seduces 
the  wife  of  an  absent  warrior  during  the  raid,  for  in  that 
case  the  husband  would  not  succeed  in  killing  any  enemy, 
but  might  very  likely  be  killed  himself.2    In  the  Loyalty 
Islands,  to  the  east  of  New  Caledonia,  "  a  woman  whose 
husband  or  son  was  absent  in  war  would  place  a  piece  of  coral 
to  represent  the  warrior  on  a  mat  before  her,  and  move  it 
about  with  her  right  hand  to  represent  his  movements  in  the 
fight.    Then  with  her  left  hand  she  would  brush  away  imagi- 
nary obstacles  and  evils.    The  warrior  was  thus  thought  to 
be  protected  by  the  charm  performed  at  home."  * 

Further,  homoeopathic  magic  is  often  resorted  to  at  sowing 
and  planting  for  the  purpose  of  promoting  the  growth  and 

1  N.  Adrian!  and  A.  C.  Kruijt,  op.  Language  of  Lifu,  Loyalty  Islands," 

j  p  XT'    ,  .  fa  Journal  of  the  Royal  Anthropo 

Jf-  -L-anotman,  op.  tit.  p.  157.  logical    Institute,    xlvii.     fiai*V    t> 

1  S,  H,  Ray,  "  The   People  and'  297. 

I  MAGIC  39 

quality  of  the  crops.  Thus,  for  example,  among  the  Chams 
of  Indo-China,  when  the  flax  is  being  gathered  in  it  is  proper 
to  pretend  to  be  drunk,  for  the  plant  is  thereby  encouraged  to 
preserve  its  inebriating  qualities.1  The  Toradyas  of  Central 
Celebes  prefer  that  a  coconut-palm  should  be  planted  by  an 
old  woman  who  has  many  children  and  grandchildren, 
because  they  believe  that  a  tree  planted  by  so  fruitful  a  woman 
will  bear  a  plentiful  crop  of  coconuts.8  The  Berbers  of 
Morocco,  at  sowing  wheat,  observe  customs  which  are  similarly 
based  on  homoeopathic  magic.  At  Ait  Hassan  it  is  a  woman 
who  scatters  the  first  handful  of  seed.  At  Addar  this  duty  is 
confided  to  the  girl  who  has  the  longest  hair,  for  it  is  believed 
that  the  wheat  which  grows  from  such  grains  will  be  as  long 
as  the  girl's  hair.  In  the  same  order  of  ideas,  at  Nedroma 
they  think  they  can  make  a  prodigious  crop  rise  from  the 
earth  by  inviting  the  tallest  worker  to  stretch  himself  at  full 
length  in  the  first  furrow.  Then,  in  the  place  which  he 
occupied,  they  bury  figs  and  an  onion.  Indeed,  to  bury  in 
the  first  furrow  certain  fruits  of  a  particular  structure,  such  as 
figs,  pomegranates,  and  locust-beans,  is  a  usage  frequently 
observed.  At  Chenoua  the  peasant  buries  two  pomegranates 
in  his  field  of  cereals,  and  two  locust-beans  in  his  field  of  broad 
beans.  In  Kabylie  pomegranates,  nuts,  and  acorns  buried 
under  the  same  conditions  serve  to  assure  a  heavy  crop.3  The 
multitude  of  seeds  found  in  figs  and  pomegranates,  and  pre- 
sumably in  the  other  plants  employed  for  this  purpose  has 
probably  suggested  their  use  in  these  fertility  charms. 

The  homoeopathic  magic  of  plants  wears  another  and  less 
agreeable  aspect  in  the  Marshall  Islands  of  the  Pacific,  where 
they  think  that  if  a  man  eats  a  bread-fruit  or  pandanus  fruit 
which  has  fallen  from  a  tree  and  burst,  he  will  himself  fall 
from  a  tree  and  burst  in  like  manner.4 

A  fruitful  branch  of  homoeopathic  magic  consists  in  the 
employment  of  the  flesh,  bones,  or  other  bodily  relics  of  the 
dead  as  vehicles  of  magical  force.5  Thus  among  the  Thonga 

1  BL  Baudesson,  /»^-C^wf<z  ttnd  its  *  P.   A.   EnUand,   £Hc  Marshall- 

Primitive  People,  p.  263.  Insulaner    (Munster    i.    W.,    1914), 

*  Adrian!   and   Kruijt,   opm  ctt.  i.  p,  339. 

267  Jy-  *  The  Golden  Bough:     The  Magic 

*  E.   Laoust,   Mots  et  .  choses  her-  Art  and  'the  Evolution  of  Jfings,  i, 
fats  (Paris,  1920),  p.  312.  147 



or  Ronga  of  South  -east  Africa,  when  a  battle  had  been  fought 
with  great  slaughter,  "magicians  from  all  Xoutpansherg  came 
and  asked  to  buy  parts  of  the  slain  in  order  to  prepare  their 
powerful  charms.     In  fact,  in  their  opinion,  the  flesh  and 
blood  of  an  enemy  killed  in  battle  is  the  most  efficacious  of 
all  charms  and  makes  a  first-rate  drug  called  murumelo.  This 
medicine  is  also  used  for  other  purposes  :   with  it  the  seeds 
are  smeared  in  order  to  ensure  a  good  harvest.     When  the 
mealies  are  two  feet  high,  the  magician  ties  together  leaves  on 
stems  at  the  four  corners  of  the  field,  after  having  treated 
them  with  the  drug  ;  the  blacksmiths  from  the  Iron  Moun- 
tains of  Zoutpansberg  buy  it  and  mix  it  with  their  mineral  ore, 
in  order  to  strengthen  the  iron  which  they  melt  in  their  fur- 
naces.   Without  this  help  they  would  obtain  but  slag.    The 
hunters  inoculate  themselves  in  the  following  way  with  the 
powder  obtained  from  the  tendons  and  the  bones  :  they  make 
incisions  in  the  skin  of  their  wrists  and  elbows,  draw  a  little 
blood,  mix  it  with  the  drug,  cook  both  in  a  pot,  expose  their 
arrows  and  assegais  to  the  smoke,  and  rub  the  incisions  with 
the  powder.    They  will  then  be  able  to  aim  straight.    The 
powder  specially  prepared  from  the  tendons  of  slain  enemies 
will  be  spread  on  the  paths  during  future  wars  ;  foes  march- 
ing on  it  unknowingly  will  suddenly  become  unable  to  walk 
and  will  easily  be  killed.  .  .  .  The  Nkuna  magicians,  in 
olden  times,  before  they  were  influenced  by  their  Pedi  neigh- 
bours, used  to  dissect  the  tendons  of  the  back  (riringa)  of  the 
slain  enemy,  which  they  smeared  with  his  medulla  and  hung  to 
the  shields  of  the  warriors.     Enemies  seeing  these  shields 
would   *  tjemeka  nhlana  ' — '  have   their  backs   broken/    a 
figurative  expression  which  means  to  be  terror-stricken.     A 
part  of  the  body  was  also  preserved  and  mixed  with  the  war- 
medicine  ;   the  idea  which  underlies  this  custom  being  evi- 
dently this  :  when  you  have  eaten  the  flesh  of  your  enemies, 
you  have  absorbed  all  their  strength  and  they  are  unable  to 
do  you  any  further  harm."1 

Among  the  Wandamba  of  Tanganyika,  when  a  man  has 
been  killed  by  an  elephant  and  buried  long  enough  to  allow 
the  bones  to  crumble,  a  medicine  man  comes  to  the  grave  and 
extracts  from  it  part  of  the  cranium,  radius,  and  tibia,  which 

1  H.  A.  Junod,  Tht  Life  of  a  South  African  Tribe,  i.  476 

1  MAGIC        .  41 

he  puts  in  his  medicine-bag.  When  these  are  ground  and 
cooked,  and  mixed  with  his  original  medicine,  together  with 
the  parts  taken  from  the  dead  elephant,  they  enhance  still 
further  the  efficacy  of  the  medicine.  Similar  extracts  from 
the  bones  of  men  who  have  been  killed  in  battle  or  have  died 
by  drinking  poison  at  a  trial  by  ordeal  are  used  for  the  same 
purpose,  since,  being  parts  of  persons  who  have  died  violent 
deaths,  they  will  hasten  the  violent  death  of  the  hunted 

A  Hausa  charm  to  render  a  husband  blind  to  his  wife's 
infidelity  is  as  follows  :  take  a  certain  kind  of  field-mouse, 
known  to  the  Hausas  as  Beran  Benghazi,  and  cut  its  throat. 
Then  dry  the  body,  taking  care  to  save  the  blood  with  it,  and 
pound  it  up  with  certain  roots.  Obtain  the  right  hand  of  a 
corpse,  place  the  powder  in  couscous  (?),  and  stir  it  with  the 
dead  hand,  hiding  it  in  your  own.  At  any  time  after  the 
husband  has  eaten  the  couscous  so  doctored,  he  will  be 
amenable  to  treatment,  and  all  the  wife  has  to  do  is  place  the 
dead  hand  under  his  pillow.  After  this  he  will  become  so 
tractable  that  she  will  be  able  to  talk  to  her  lover  in  his 
presence,  and  he  will  even  summon  the  lover  to  visit  her  at  her 
request.  In  both  cases  it  is  the  corpse  which  exercises  the 
soporific  influence,  for  the  husband  is  made  as  if  to  appear 
dead  for  the  time.  The  mouse  (which  moves  in  dark  corners) 
and  the  roots  (which  never  see  the  sun)  cause  the  husband  to 
be  blind  to  the  wife's  misconduct  even  when  he  is  awake.2 

Among  the  Kpelle,  a  tribe  of  Liberia,  warriors  think  that 
they  become  brave  if  they  eat  part  of  the  corpse  of  a  brave 
enemy,  or  drink  the  blood,  or  use  his  skull  as  a  drinking-cup.a 

In  Java  burglars  strew  earth  from  a  grave  in  the  houses 
which  they  intend  to  rob  for  the  purpose  of  plunging  the 
inmates  into  a  slumber  as  deep  as  that  of  the  dead.4  Among 
the  Kiwai  of  British  New  Guinea,  in  order  to  destroy  some 
other  man's  coconut  tree,  a  sorcerer  will  proceed  as  follows. 
When  somebody  has  died  in  the  village  the  sorcerer  provides 

1  A*  G.  O.  Hodgson,  *'  Some  Notes  the  &ori  (London),  pp.  165 
on    the    Hunting    Customs    of    the          3  D.     Westermann,     Die     Kpelle 

Wanditruba,"  vb  Journal  oj  the  Royal  (Goettingen   and    Leipzig,    1921)*  P* 

Anthropological  Institute^  Ivi.  (1926)  2103. 
p.  64.  *  A.     Bastian,    Die     V$lker    de$ 

a  A.  J    N.  Ttemeurne,  The  Ban  of  fctlichen  Asien  (Jena,  1869),  vi.  170. 


himself  with  a  powerful  poison  by  thrusting  a  small  piece  of 
the  tiroho  plant  into  the  nose  of  the  corpse,  afterwards  remov- 
ing it  and  keeping  it  for  future  use.  When  the  occasion 
offers  itself,  he  sticks  the  tiroho  into  the  trunk  of  a  coconut 
tree  belonging  to  his  enemy,  and  pulls  it  out  again.  After 
that  the  tree  will  produce  no  more  fruit,  and  all  the  young 
coconuts  will  die  and  fall  off.  The  bane  can  be  undone  by 
the  sorcerer  if  he  washes  the  stick  of  tiroho  in  water,  paints  it 
red,  and  takes  it  home.1  In  New  Britain  a  thief  places  bones 
on  the  breasts  of  sleepers  in  a  house  which  he  wishes  to  rob : 
the  bones  are  thought  to  keep  the  sleepers  slumbering  soundly 
while  the  thief  carries  off  the  goods.2 

Again,  animals  are  a  fertile  source  of  homoeopathic  magic, 
which  seeks  to  employ  their  desirable  properties  for  the  use 
and  benefit  of  mankind.8    Thus,  for  example,  the  Kpelle,  a 
tribe  of  Liberia,  imagine  that  the  flesh  of  the  dwarf  antelope 
imparts  speed  and  cunning  to  the  eater,  and  that  the  flesh  of 
the  leopard  communicates  strength  and  dexterity  to  him  who 
partakes  of  it,  and  that  the  same  desirable  qualities  are 
acquired  by  him  who  wears  the  teeth  and  claws  of  the  leopard* 
The  powdered  shells  of  snails  are  supposed  to  heal  sicknesses 
of  various  sorts,  because  the  snail  goes  straight  forward 
without  turning  on  its  tracks,  and  is  in  fact  a  good  progress- 
ive animal,  hence  a  patient  who  swallows  a  portion  of  its 
shell  maybe  expected  to  make  good  progress  towards  recovery. 
The  head  and  skin  of  a  leopard  are  kept  by  a  chief  in  his  hut 
on  account  of  the  strength  which  is  supposed  to  emanate  from 
them.4    Among  the  Banyankole,  a  tribe  in  the  south  of 
Uganda,  when  a  child  was  slow  of  learning  to  speak,  the 
parents  would  catch  a  bird  called  the  kanyonza  which  was 
known  for  its  chattering,  and  was  said  to  be  almost  able  to 
talk.    The  child's  tongue  was  made  to  touch  the  bird,  and 
it  was  believed  that  thereafter  the  child  would  be  able  to  talk 
in  a  few  days.5    The  following  is  a  Hausa  charm.     If  you 

1  G.  Landtman,  The  Kiwai  Papu-  p,  456. 

ens  of  British  New  Guinea,  p.  99.  *  The  Golden  Bough  :    The  Magic 

1  B.    Banks,    "  Some    Notes    on  Art  and  the  Evolution  of  Kings,  i. 

Savage    Life   in    New    Britain,"   in  150^. 

Report  of  the  Twelfth  Meeting  of  the  *  D.  Westermann,  op.  fit.  p.  203. 

Australasian  Association  for  the  Ad-  •  J.   Roscoe,    The  Banyank&U,   p, 

vancement  of  Science  (Brisbane,  1910),  115. 

I  MAGIC  43 

suspect  that  any  person  is  trying  to  wound  or  imprison  you, 
get  a  piece  of  a  skin  of  an  electric  eel  and  wear  it  on  your 
person,  for  this  will  not  only  enable  you  to  slip  from  the 
hands  of  anyone  who  tries  to  catch  hold  of  you  :  it  will  also 
cause  all  blows  of  clubs  or  swords  to  slide  off  harmless.1 
Among  the  Ekoi  of  Southern  Nigeria,  when  an  infant  is 
thought  old  enough,  its  wrist  is  cut  and  medicine  rubbed  in. 
The  medicine  which  is  intended  to  give  strength  is  made  from 
the  index  finger  of  the  chimpanzee,  and  to  impart  quickness 
and  activity  fierce  black  ants  are  pounded  up  and  used.2 

The  Pangwe  or  Fan,  a  tribe  of  West  Africa,  attribute  to 
the  swallow  the  peculiar  power  of  evading  its  enemy,  the 
hawk.  Hence  they  think  that  if  a  man  kills  a  swallow  and 
carries  it  as  a  parcel  on  his  person  he  will  be  sure  to  avoid  the 
shots  of  the  enemy.8  The  Bakongo  of  equatorial  Africa 
employ  frogs  in  composing  the  potion  which  warriors  drink 
before  going  forth  to  battle,  because  they  have  noticed  that 
when  a  frog's  heart  is  extracted  from  its  body  it  continues  to 
pulsate  for  some  time  afterwards,  and  they  hope  that  the  frog 
medicine  will  communicate  to  them  a  corresponding  tenacity 
of  life.4  In  Loango  men  tie  strips  of  antelope  skins  to  their 
legs  in  order  to  give  them  the  fleetness  of  the  antelope.5 
The  Ba-Ila  of  Northern  Rhodesia  compound  medicines  from 
various  living  creatures  to  assure  the  safety  of  their  warriors 
in  battle.  They  notice  that  a  certain  insect  called  Injelele 
darts  rapidly  over  the  surface  of  a  pool  or  lake,  so  rapidly 
that  you  can  hardly  follow  its  motions.  Accordingly,  this 
insect  is  eaten  with  food  to  make  the  eater  invisible  in  battle. 
Again,  the  skunk  is  a  difficult  creature  to  kill  or  catch,  because 
when  it  is  chased  it  jumps  rapidly  from  side  to  side.  Accord- 
ingly the  Ba-Ila  use  it  as  a  charm  to  ensure  their  safety  in  the 
fight.  Some  take  the  nose  of  the  animal,  others  some  of  its 
hair,  and  put  them  in  the  medicine  bag  which  they  wear  on 
their  bodies.  These  are  charms  to  secure  that  the  spears  of 
the  enemy  will  fail  to  reach  the  wearer  :  that,  indeed,  he  will 
be  as  hard  to  hit  as  the  skunk.  Similarly  the  quail,  on  account 

*  A.  J.  N.  Tremearne,  The  Ban  of     Hn,  1913),  ii,  6. 

the  Bori)  p.  172.  *  J.  H.  Weeks,  Among  the  Primi* 

8  P.    A.    Talbot,    The   Peoples   of  tive  Bakongo^  p.  192. 

Southern  Nigeria,  ii.  372  sq.  *  Di*    Loango- Expedition,    iii.    3, 

*  G.  Tessmann,  Die  Pangwe  (Ber-  p.  351. 



of  its  ability  to  hide,  is  eaten  by  a  warrior  to  render  him  un- 
discoverable  by  the  enemy.1    And  as  people  often  eat  the 
flesh  of  certain  animals  in  order  to  acquire  the  qualities  of 
these  creatures,  so  in  certain  cases  they  avoid  eating  the  flesh 
of  others  lest  they  should  acquire  certain  undesirable  qualities 
which  are  characteristic  of  these  animals.    Thus,  for  example, 
in  Madagascar  a  pregnant  woman  is  bound  to  abstain  from 
eating  a  whole  list  of  animals,  which  it  is  feared  might 
influence  for  evil  her  unborn  child.     She  may  not  eat  water- 
scorpion  or  crabs,  because  otherwise  her  child  would  have 
deformed  hands.     She  may  not  eat  a  certain  bird  of  night 
(tararaka),   because  if  she   did   so  her   child   would   have 
goggle-eyes   like   the   bird*     She   may   not   eat   menamaso 
(small  wading  birds),  nor  the  feet  of  birds  in  general,  and  above 
all  the  feet  of  the  goose  and  the  duck,  lest  her  child  should 
have  webbed  feet  and  no  calves.     She  may  not  eat  red  pepper, 
for  otherwise  her  child  would  have  red  hair ;  nor  mulberries 
or  raspberries,  lest  he  should  have  birth-marks  of  corre- 
sponding colour ;  nor  the  white  of  an  egg,  lest  he  should  be 
an  albino ;  nor  the  Madagascar  sparrow,  lest  he  should  be 
quarrelsome  like  the  bird ;  nor  the  ears  of  sheep,  lest  he  should 
become  timid  like  the  sheep.2    Among  the  domiciled  Hindoos 
of  Baluchistan  "  if  a  boy  does  not  begin  to  talk  freely  within  a 
reasonable  time,  he  is  given,  in  Barkhan,  water  out  of  which 
a  sparrow  has  first  drunk,  and  a  piece  of  cake  baked  of  dough 
which  has  first  been  rubbed  over  a  kind  of  drum  called 
tabla.     In  Lahri  he  is  made  to  eat  the  head  of  a  partridge 
roasted  on  embers,  and  in  Bhag  any  food  which  has  been 
touched  by  a  sparrow  or  a  parrot.     These  devices,  of  course, 
loosen  his  tongue  and  he  becomes  as  chirpy  as  a  sparrow  or  a 
partridge  and  as  loud  as  a  drum/1  * 

During  the  time  of  harvest  the  Lakhers  of  North-Eastern 
India  may  not  eat  a  bird  or  rat,  because  if  they  did  so  the 
spirit  of  the  rat  or  bird  would  eat  the  paddy  (rice  in  the  fields). 
The  reason  why  some  of  them  sacrifice  a  mole  instead  of  a 
hen  is  that  the  mole  in  burrowing  throws  up  a  large  quantity 

1  E.  W.  Smith  and  A.  M.  Dale,  Madagascar,  vol.  Iv.,  Ethnographic 

The  Ila-speaking  Peoples  of  Southern  de  Madagascar,  Part  ii.  (Paris,  1914) 

Rhodesia^  i.  263,  ii.  360.  p.  250. 

*  A.  and  G.  Grandidier,  Histoire  *  Denys  Bray,  Ethnographic  Sur. 

physique,  naturelle  et  polittque.  de  vey  of  Baluchistan,  &  51  sg. 

I  MAGIC  45 

of  soil,  and  accordingly  they  hope  that  the  paddy  will  bear  a 
correspondingly  large  crop.  Further,  the  porcupine  is  deemed 
to  be  a  very  propitious  animal  for  the  crops,  as  in  burrowing 
he  throws  up  a  large  quantity  of  earth,  and  accordingly  at 
the  harvest  feast  for  the  rice  crop  boys  are  given  the  flesh  of 
porcupine  to  eat.1 

The  Toradyas  of  Central  Celebes  think  that  a  sickness 
caused  by  a  note  of  the  woodpecker  can  be  cured  by  a  beak 
of  the  bird.  When  a  man  is  suffering  from  a  splinter  of  wood 
which  has  run  into  his  body,  the  doctor  will  chew  a  piece  of  a 
tortoise's  head  and  spit  it  on  the  suffering  part  of  the  patient's 
body,  because  they  think  that  just  as  a  tortoise  withdraws  and 
then  protrudes  its  head,  so  the  man's  body  will  protrude  and 
push  out  the  intrusive  splinter.2 

The  Kiwai  of  British  New  Guinea  put  the  claw  of  a  certain 
crayfish  in  a  trap  to  enable  the  trap  to  catch  many  fish.  This 
they  do,  because  the  crayfish  turns  its  claws  inwards  in  a 
peculiar  fashion  when  walking,  as  if  it  were  beckoning  to 
some  one.  Hence  its  claw  is  supposed  to  beckon  many  fish 
to  come  into  the  trap.3  Among  these  people,  when  a  boy  is 
being  scarified,  the  head  of  a  centipede  is  sometimes  inserted 
into  the  wound,  because  these  reptiles  are  almost  as  much 
dreaded  as  snakes.  Hence  the  boy  who  has  been  inoculated 
with  one  of  them  is  expected  to  become  a  great  warrior.* 
When  the  first  shoots  of  the  yam  crop  corne  up  through  the 
soil,  the  natives  of  the  Fly  River,  in  British  New  Guinea, 
insert  sticks  in  the  ground  for  them  to  climb  up.  And  in  a 
hole  close  by  the  stick  they  insert  certain  pieces  of  the  flying- 
fox  which  have  previously  been  dried  for  the  purpose.  This 
they  do  because  flying-foxes  are  extremely  prolific  ;  hundreds 
of  them  may  be  seen  hanging  to  a  single  tree  at  certain  times 
of  the  year.  And  accordingly  the  natives  imagine  that  by 
thus  associating  the  yams  with  flying-foxes  they  will  render 
the  shoots  of  the  yams  equally  prolific.6  The  Larrekiya 
youths  of  Northern  Australia  admire  the  musical  chirping  of 
a  species  of  large  grasshopper,  and  they  eat  the  insect  in  order 

1  N.  E.  Parry,  The  Lakhers  (Lou-  ans  of  British  New  Guinea,  p.  170, 
don,  1932),  pp.  437,  439.  *  G.  Landtman,  op.  cit.  p.  240. 

3  Adriani  and  Kruijt,  op.  at.  i.  409.         *  E.  Baxter  Riley,  Among  Papuan 

8  (r.  Landtman,  The  Kiwai  P&pu-  Headhunted  (London,  1925),  p.  98. 


to  acquire  its  vocal  talent.1  The  CatJos  Indians  of  Columbia 
in  South  America  give  their  boys  the  eyes  of  chameleons  to 
eat,  in  order  that  the  boys  may  be  sly  and  circumspect  like 
the  animal.  Also  they  give  them  to  eat  the  eyes  and  the  tail 
of  the  jaguar,  that  like  the  jaguar  they  may  be  strong  in  battle. 
Further,  they  give  the  youths  to  eat  the  eyes  of  certain  birds 
which  build  very  fine  nests,  in  order  that  the  young  men  may 
similarly  build  fine  Indian  huts.2 

Further,  inanimate  objects  also  possess  certain  desirable 
qualities  which  primitive  man  attempts  to  appropriate  by 
homoeopathic  magic.  Thus,  in  the  opinion  of  the  Malays  of 
the  Peninsula,  "  hard  objects  have  strong  soul-substance,  of 
which  magic  makes  good  use.  The  sick  are  rubbed  with 
bezoar-stones.  A  candle-nut,  a  stone,  and  an  iron  nail  are 
employed  both  at  the  birth  of  a  child  and  at  the  taking  of  the 
rice-baby.8  The  drinking  of  water  in  which  iron  has  been 
put  strengthens  an  oath,  for  the  soul  of  the  metal  will  destroy 
a  perjurer.  Applied  to  the  wound,  the  blades  of  some  daggers 
can  extract  the  venom  from  a  snake-bite,  and  the  mere  invoca- 
tion of  magnetic  steel  will  help  to  join  parted  lovers.11  * 

Before  planting  taro  the  Kai  of  Northern  New  Guinea 
place  the  shoots  on  a  large  and  heavy  block  of  stone  in  order 
that  the  crop  of  taro  may  in  like  manner  be  large  and  heavy,5 
and  among  them  dancers  possess  certain  round  stones  which 
roll  easily  on  the  ground.  Before  the  men  begin  to  dance 
each  man  chips  off  a  small  piece  of  this  stone,  takes  it  in  his 
mouth  with  water,  and  then  spits  it  out.  By  this  ceremony 
he  expects  to  acquire  the  mobility  of  the  stone  in  the  dance.6 
The  Bukaua  of  Northern  New  Guinea  employ  stones  shaped 
like  taro  tubers  in  the  taro  fields  in  order  to  promote  by 
homoeopathic  magic  the  growth  of  the  taro  crop.  The  stones 
are  inserted  in  holes  in  the  field,  and  they  remain  there  until 
the  harvest.  At  planting  them  the  magician  reinforces  the 
effect  of  the  magical  stones  by  prayers  which  he  addresses  to 

^  ^  B,a,Sf^'    Tht    Ausiralia*      Tk*  Spirits  o}  the  Corn  and  of  tk* 
Abonpnal  (Adelaide,  I925),  p.  384.          Wild,  i.  197  W. 

2  J.  and  M.  Schilling,  in  Artkw  fur         4  p    n  w-    ,   UP*  *  - 

Retigionswissenschajt,    xxiii      {iQ-O  *•  y-  Wmstedt,  Shaman,  Setva, 

p.  230.  X  v"w      and  •$*/*>  P-  74- 

8  The  rice-baby  is  an  effigy  made         *  &•     Neuhauss,     Deutsch     Neu» 
from  the  stalks  of  the  rice  on  the  har-      Guinea,  Hi.  123* 
vest-field.    Cf.   The  Golden  Bough;         «  Neuhauss,  of.  cit.  iii  1 xg. 



the  ancestral  spirits,  begging  them  to  take  care  of  the  fields 
and  to  ensure  a  good  crop.1  Further,  among  these  Bukaua, 
there  are  magicians  who  are  believed  to  be  able  to  cause 
dearth  by  spoiling  the  taro  crops  through  homoeopathic 
magic.  They  have  a  great  reputation  and  are  much  feared. 
They  work  by  means  of  stones  which  resemble  the  effects  that 
they  desire  to  produce  in  the  taro.  For  example,  they  employ 
a  stone  which  resembles  a  rotten  fruit,  which  will  cause  the 
plant  to  put  forth  many  leaves  but  little  or  no  fruit ;  or  a  round 
stone  with  a  long  handle,  which  causes  the  seedling  to  put 
out  a  long  shoot  but  very  small  fruit ;  or  a  scraped  stone  of  a 
peculiar  shape,  which  causes  all  the  fruit  to  rot,  so  that  in 
digging  up  the  plant  nothing  is  found  but  foul  matter  adher- 
ing to  the  leaves  ;  or  a  large  stone  with  two  small  holes  in  it 
resembling  the  holes  made  by  beetles  which  have  gnawed  the 
tubers,  which  is  thought  to  cause  the  beetles  to  gnaw  the  real 
tubers  ;  or  a  small  stone  in  order  that  the  fruit  itself  may  in 
like  manner  be  small.*  Among  objects  possessed  of  magical 
virtue  the  Kpelle  of  Liberia  esteem  stones  very  highly  on 
account  of  the  endurance  and  strength  which  they  are  believed 
to  impart.  Hence  they  make  great  use  of  them  in  magical 
ceremonies  for  the  benefit  of  the  tribe  or  the  town.  In  every 
Kpelle  village  may  be  seen  a  stone  hanging  from  a  pole  over 
a  path  or  buried  in  the  ground.  As  the  inhabitants  of  the 
village  in  their  daily  avocations  pass  to  and  fro  under  or  over 
the  stone  they  are  supposed  to  acquire  some  portion  of  its 
strength  and  stability.8 

Among  the  natives  of  the  Purari  Delta  in  British  New 
Guinea  we  hear  of  a  cure  effected  through  homoeopathic 
magic  by  the  red  glow  of  sunset.  A  native  policeman  was 
suffering  from  a  painful  swelling  in  the  groin.  An  oM  man 
undertook  to  cure  him.  At  sundown,  while  the  sky  was 
aglow  with  red  sunset  light,  the  old  man  rubbed  a  red  paste 
on  his  hands,  then  facing  westward  he  uttered  a  spell.  There- 
after, still  facing  the  western  sky,  he  waved  his  arms  before 
him,  then  turning  to  the  patient  he  rubbed  the  red  paste  over 
his  swelling.  He  explained  in  no  uncertain  terms  that,  as 
the  red  of  the  sunset  faded  in  a  few  moments,  so  he  expected 

1  Neuhauss,  op.  cit.  iii.  434,  *  D«  Westermann,  Die  Kpelle^  p. 

1  Neuhauss,  op.  tit*  iii.  457.  203. 


the  speedy  and  complete  disappearance  of  the  unfortunate 
policeman's  swelling  which  had  been  smeared  with  the  red 
paste.  The  result  did  not  answer  to  his  expectations.1 

Men,  both  savage  and  civilized,  are  apt  to  associate  by 
homoeopathic  magic  birth  and  death  with  the  flow  and  ebb 
of  the  tides.2  Thus  in  San  Cristoval,  one  of  the  Solomon 
Islands,  a  woman  of  the  noble  Araha  clan  may  not  leave  the 
house  in  her  pregnancy.  Pregnant  women  of  other  clans 
may  leave  their  houses,  but  only  at  high  tide,  because 
they  believe  that  it  is  only  at  high  tide  that  women  give  birth 
to  offspring  successfully.3  In  Loango  it  is  believed  that 
people  do  not  die  when  the  tide  is  flowing,  but  only  when 
it  is  ebbing.4  Similarly  the  coast-dwellers  of  the  North 
Andaman  Islands  believe  that  the  soul  of  a  dying  man  goes 
out  with  the  ebbing  tide.5 

Thus  far  we  have  been  dealing  mainly  with  homoeopathic 

or  imitative  magic,  which  is  based  on  the  principle  of  re- 

semblance, on  the  assumption  that  like  things  produce  like 

effects.    The  other  great  branch  of  sympathetic  magic,  which 

I  have  called  contagious  magic,  rests  on  the  assumption  that 

things  which  have  once  been  conjoined  remain  ever  after, 

even  when  disjoined  from  each  other,  in  sympathetic  relation, 

such  that  whatever  is  done  to  the  one  affects  the  other  in  like 

manner.6    Thus  for  example  contagious  magic  is  supposed 

to  exist  between  a  man  and  the  severed  portions  of  his  person, 

such  as  his  teeth,  hair,  and  nails,  even  when  the  teeth  have 

been  extracted  and  the  hair  and  nails  clipped.      To  take 

instances,   among    the   Kai   of    Northern    New   Guinea   a 

magician  who  desires  to  injure  a  person  seeks  to  possess  him- 

self of  some  portion  of  his  victim's  person  or  of  something 

which  has  been  in  contact  with  him,  such  as  a  hair  of  his  body, 

a  drop  of  his  sweat,  his  spittle,  or  the  remains  of  his  food,  or 

a  shaving  of  wood.    All  these  things  must  be  taken  quite 

fresh,  as  otherwise   t  would  be  uncertain  whether  the  soul- 

.E.WilHaixis,r^^^zW<7/^  *  Die    Loango-  Expedition,    iii.    2, 

Puran  Belt*  (London,  1924),  p.  231.  p,  325. 

*  The  >  Golden  Bough  :   The  Magic  •  A.    R,    Brown,    The    Andaman 

Art  and  the  Evolution  of  Kings,  i.  Islanders  (Cambridge,  1922),  p.  175 


3         r   ^       n    „  '  Cf*    Th< 

JU  i.  Fox,  The  Threshold  of  the      Magic   Art   and  the    Evolution    of 
Pacific  (London,  1924),  p.  337,  .    £in      L  , 

I  MA  GIC  49 

stuff  of  the  man  still  remained  in  them,  in  order  to  ensure 
that  the  vital  energy  of  the  intended  victim  is  still  in  the  relic, 
the  object  is  inserted  in  a  small  bamboo  tube  and  put  by  the 
magician  under  his  arm-pit  to  keep  it  warm.  Afterwards  he 
wraps  the  relic  in  a  Gama  leaf,  in  order  that,  just  as  Gama 
leaves  are  devoured  by  caterpillars,  so  will  the  body  of  his 
victim  become  the  food  of  worms.  Afterwards  he  puts  the 
relic  in-  a  bamboo  cane,  and  wraps  it  again  in  Gama  leaves, 
and  ties  them  with  the  leaves  of  a  certain  climbing  plant. 
This  climbing  plant  withers  and  decays  very  quickly,  and  so 
shall  the  charmed  man  quickly  lose  his  strength,  and  die. 
Thus  in  these  enchantments  the  magician  employs  both 
contagious  and  homoeopathic  magic  for  the  destruction  of  his 

In  New  Britain  much  use  is  made  of  contagious  magic  for 
the  detriment  or  destruction  of  persons  at  whom  the  magician 
has  a  grudge.  On  this  subject  an  experienced  missionary 
writes  as  follows:  "Charms  (malira)  are  many,  and  employed 
for  many  purposes,  such  as  to  ensure  love,  to  inflict  disease, 
and  so  on.  One  consists  in  pricking  the  footprints  of  a  person 
with  the  barbed  bone  of  a  ray-fish.  This  brings  sickness  or 
evil  on  the  person  whose  footprints  have  been  so  treated. 
Sometimes  they  (the  malira  or  charms)  are  made  out  of  any- 
thing which  has  had  connection  or  contact  with  a  person,  such 
as  remains  of  food  of  which  she  or  he  has  partaken  ;  earth 
from  a  footprint,  excrement,  spittle,  hair,  or  clothing.  Any 
of  these  things  may  be  buried  with  incantation  ceremonies, 
and  thus  afflict  the  people  concerned  in  various  ways.  The 
name  of  this  custom  \sputa  and  the  articles  used  putaputana. 
This  last  kind  of  malira  is  much  guarded  against.  Expec- 
toration is  in  the  form  of  infinitesimal  spray.  Stooling  is 
always  in  absolute  secrecy,  and  with  the  greatest  care.  When 
shaving  or  cutting  the  hair,  every  scrap  of  hair  is  carefully 
burnt,  and  the  crumbs  of  one's  food  are  also  burnt*  Now  all 
these  charms  work  by  the  power  of  the  spirit  world,  and 
through  the  spiritual  connection  of  things  and  men,  and  day 
and  night  people  live  and  move  and  have  their  being  in  a 
spiritualistic  atmosphere.  They  fear  each  other  less  as  men 
than  they  do  as  men  possessed  of  a  powerful  malira*  To  us 

1  R.  Neuhauss,  Deutsch  Neu-Gvinta,  iii.  134 



this  is  ridiculous,  but  not  so  to  them.**1  Maori  magicians 
work  harm  on  an  enemy  either  by  earth  taken  from  his  foot- 
prints or  by  a  shred  of  his  clothing,  a  lock  of  his  hair,  or  his 
spittle.  For  this  reason  it  is  a  rule  with  the  Maoris  when 
they  are  travelling  in  the  country  of  a  hostile  tribe  not  to  walk 
in  the  paths  but  to  go  as  far  as  possible  in  the  beds  of  streams 
so  as  to  leave  behind  them  no  footprints  which  a  magician 
might  use  to  their  bane.8 

In  Northern  Australia,  "  in  tribes  inhabiting  the  country 
around  the  Alligator  Rivers  a  very  favourite  form  of  magic 
is  to  get  hold  of  some  excrement,  it  does  not  matter  how  small 
a  piece,  of  a  man  or  woman  against  whom  you  may  have  a 
grudge,  and  whom  you  wish  to  injure.  All  you  have  to  do 
is  to  get  two  or  three  friends  to  help  you  perform  a  rather 
elaborate  ceremony  out  in  some  quiet  spot,  where  he  cannot 
see  you,  and  you  can  easily  compass  his  death.  The  belief 
has  one  beneficial  result  in  that  the  camps  of  these  natives  are 
much  better  from  a  sanitary  point  of  view  than  in  most  Aus- 
tralian tribes,  because  everything  is  carefully  buried  lest 
some  enemy  should  be  lurking  about.*** 

Among  personal  relics  which  are  the  subjects  of  contagious 
magic,  extracted  teeth  occupy  an  important  place.  Thus 
among  the  Wajagga  of  Kilimanjaro  in  East  Africa  when  a 
child  loses  its  milk-tooth  it  throws  it  on  the  roof  of  the  hut 
to  the  lizards  playing  there,  saying,  "  Little  lizard,  you  have 
my  tooth  :  send  me  a  better  one  for  it"  If  the  child  does 
not  do  this,  it  is  thought  that  his  second  tooth  will  not  come 
quickly,4  In  the  Tigre  tribes  of  Abyssinia,  "  if  the  milk- 
teeth  of  little  children  break  away,  the  parents  say  to  every 
one  of  them  :  '  Thou  wert  born  in  such  and  such  a  country, 
and  now  that  lies  in  this  direction,  turn  thither  and  throw 
thy  toothlet ! '  And  the  little  one  takes  a  small  piece  of 
quartz  and  another  of  charcoal  with  his  toothlet.  Then  he 
turns  in  the  direction  in  which  they  have  told  him  and  says, 

1   *R        T^      1  tt  e> 

,,«JL    T£*_    XT      *L  ?°.te!L  on     Australasia*     Association     far     the 

<vwi<»   TiV.   L    XT «  -7  . ,.    M  *nus(rafafian     Association     for    the 

OZiVaffc     ,L«1IG     1H      JNPtir      Hrifoi**  **     £•*  Jl  J                                   *   *.    .                          * 

Re*£t  »t  *L  'r    JXi  >J •     -     '  ,  m  Advancement  of  Science,  1910,  p,  450. 

Kept*  of  the  Twelfth  Meeting  of  the  •  Baldma  Spencer,  Afeite  Tnlfs 

association  for  the  of  Northern  Australia,  p.  37.  Cf, 

of  Science,  I9io,  p.  id,  pp.  257  sqq.  *  F  ^ 

E    Best    «  M»«^  -D  r  •     „  .          *  B'  Gut&Mi"*,  Dicktat  and  X)ut* 

l  MAGIC  51 

'  Howling  hyena,  this  my  pretty  toothlet  I  give  thee  ;  give 
thou  me  thy  ugly  tooth.'  And  he  throws  his  toothlet  with 
the  other  pieces.  But  later  on  when  his  man's  incisors  are 
shed  again  or  if  they  are  broken  by  force,  he  gathers  them  and 
also  his  molar  teeth.  Then  when  he  is  buried  they  are  buried 
with  him,  and  his  body  is  considered  complete.  But  those 
who  do  not  know  it  do  not  pay  attention  to  this  nor  gather 
them."1  In  Marsa  Matruh,  the  classical  Paraetonium, 
situated  about  1 50  miles  west  of  Alexandria  on  the  Marmaric 
coast,  the  population  consists  chiefly  of  Bedouins,  with  a 
strong  infusion  of  Berber  blood.  Among  them,  "  in  child- 
hood, when  a  boy  or  girl  loses  his  or  her  first  teeth,  the  teeth, 
as  soon  as  they  come  out,  are  thrown  into  the  air  with  the 
exclamation,  *  I  have  exchanged  my  tooth  for  thee,  O  star ! ' 
The  explanation  given  for  this  practice  is  that  there  are  from 
time  to  time  found  in  the  fields  white  nodules  of  exceptionally 
hard  stone,  which  are  believed  to  be  fallen  stars."  The  inten- 
tion of  the  practice  is  no  doubt  to  ensure  by  this  means  that 
the  next  teeth  of  the  child  should  be  white  and  hard,  like  the 
nodules  of  stone.  A  similar  custom  is  practised  by  Algerian 
children,  who  toss  a  lost  tooth  towards  the  sun,  saying,  "  O 
Sun,  give  me  a  new  tooth  !  "  2  Among  the  Sakalava,  an 
important  tribe  of  Madagascar,  when  the  first  milk-tooth  of  a 
child  drops  out,  the  child  throws  it  on  the  roof  of  his  parents' 
house,  saying,  "  I  change  this  bad  tooth  for  a  good  one."  s 
Among  the  Oraons  of  Chota  Nagpur  in  India  "  children 
besmear  their  own  cast  milk-teeth  with  cowdung  and  saliva, 
and  then  throw  these  teeth  on  the  roof  of  their  own  huts. 
As  they  thus  throw  away  the  teeth,  they  call  on  the  mice  to 
exchange  their  milk-white  teeth  with  their  own  cast  milk- 
teeth,  saying, '  May  mine  be  new,  and  yours  old.*  "  4  Among 
the  Shans  of  Burma  "  when  a  child  loses  its  first  teeth  it  is 
often  teased  by  the  big  children,  who  call  it  '  Little  Grand- 
father *  or  '  Grandmother.1  If  an  upper  tooth  comes  out 

1  E,  Littmann,  Publications  of  the  *  A.   and   G.  Grandidier,  op.  cit* 

Princeton    Expedition   to  Abyssinia,  iv,  2,  p.  292. 
ii.  (Leyden,  1910)  p.  315. 

*  O.  Bates,  "  Ethnographic  Notes  *  S.  C.  Roy,  "  Magic  and  Witch- 

from  Marsa  Matruh,"  in Journal  of  'the  craft  on  the  Chota  Nagpur  Plateau," 

Royal    Asiatic    Society,    1915,    pp.  in.  Journal  of  the  Royal  Anthropo- 

724  sq.  logical  Institute^  xJiv.  (1914)  P-  333- 


it  must  be  thrown  on  the  roof  of  the  house,  and  the  child  is 
taught  to  say,  '  Little  mice,  take  away  this  old  tooth  and  bring 
me  a  new  tooth.1  It  is  not  an  easy  matter  for  a  small  arm  to 
throw  so  far,  but  there  is  always  some  kind  big  boy  or  man 
who  is  willing  to  help.  The  excitement  is  great  when  the 
tooth  falls  short  of  the  roof,  or,  when  landing  successfully,  it 
rolls  down  and  falls  to  the  ground.  It  must  at  once  be  found 
and  thrown  up  again.  A  lower  tooth  must  be  hidden  among 
the  ashes  of  the  hearth,  while  the  same  appeal  to  the  little 
mice  is  made."  *  Among  the  Kiwai  of  British  New  Guinea 
11  the  milk-teeth  on  falling  out  are  sometimes  buried — for 
instance  in  a  forefather's  grave,  just  under  the  surface.  When 
this  is  being  done,  the  child  is  taught  to  call  on  the  dead  person 
by  name  and  say,  *  I  give  you  old  tooth,  you  give  me  new  one/ 
In  other  cases  the  teeth  are  dropped  into  holes  bored  in  the 
beach  by  small  reddish  crabs  (siogoro  ;  they  look  like  spiders). 
The  child  says,  *  This  teeth  he  no  good,  you  give  me  good 
teeth.'  Adults'  teeth  that  have  come  out  are  thrown  away 
anywhere  when  no  one  is  looking.  Teeth  too  can  be  used 
for  sorcery."  z 

Similar  customs  with  regard  to  the  cast  milk-teeth  are 
known  and  practised  in  Europe.  In  Swabia  the  first  milk- 
tooth  cast  by  a  child  is  dropped  into  a  mouse-hole.  Then 
the  child  gets  a  new  one.  Others  say  that  the  child  should 
throw  the  tooth  behind  it,  saying,  "  Mouse,  thou  hast  an  old 
tooth,  make  me  a  new  one/'  Another  version  of  this  speech 
at  throwing  away  the  tooth  is,  "  Wolf,  wolf,  I  give  you  here  an 
old  tooth  :  give  me  a  new  one  for  it.1*  3  In  Masuren,  a  district 
of  Germany,  a  child  throws  its  first  cast  tooth  upon  the  stove, 
saying,  "  Little  mouse,  little  mouse,  my  dear  little  brother, 
take  my  bone  tooth  and  give  me  an  iron  one."  4  In  the  North 
Frisian  Islands,  "  when  a  child's  milk-tooth  falls  out,  the 
child  should  throw  it  into  the  clock  or  the  chimney,  saying, 
'  Little  mouse,  little  mouse,  I  bring  you  a  golden  tooth.  Will 
you  bring  me  a  tooth  of  bone  in  return  ?  J  Or,  *  Little  mouse, 
little  mouse,  I  bring  you  a  tooth  of  bone.  If  you  bring  me  in 

_l  Mrs.  Leslie  Milne,  The  Shans  at      und  Gebr&uch*  aus  Schwaben  (Stiitt- 
Home  (London,  1910),  pp.  40  s$.  gart,  1852),  pp.  494  sq. 

*  G.  Landtman,  The  Kiwai  Papu- 

i  €  B^sh  New  Guinea>  P-  235-  4  M.    Toeppen,    Aberglaubtn 

E.  Meier,  Deutsche  Sagen,  Sitten,      Masuren  (Danzig,  1867},  p.  83. 

I  MAGIC  53 

return  a  tooth  of  bone,  I  will  bring  you  a  silver  tooth/  Or, 
'  Little  mouse,  little  mouse,  here  is  an  old  tooth.  Give  me  a 
new  one  in  return/  Or,  '  Little  mouse,  there  you  have  my 
old  tooth  ;  bring  me  a  new  one  instead/  "  x 

Again,  among  the  personal  relics  which  are  the  subjects 
of  contagious  magic  the  navel-string  and  afterbirth  or  placenta 
figure  largely.2  Thus  among  the  Birhors  of  Chota  Nagpur 
in  India  when  a  birth  has  taken  place  "  the  navel-string  and 
the  placenta  are  now  taken  up  in  a  leaf-cup  and  buried  just 
outside  the  threshold  of  the  hut  in  a  hole  about  a  cubit  deep. 
The  Birhors  assert  that  the  reason  why  the  afterbirth  is  thus 
buried  and  secreted  is  that  should  a  dog  or  other  animal 
eat  it  up  the  mother  would  sicken  and  die.  If  this  hole  is 
deep,  the  difference  between  the  age  of  the  present  baby  and 
its  next  brother  or  sister  will  be  long,  and  if  the  hole  be 
shallow,  the  difference  will  be  short.  The  stump  of  the  um- 
bilical cord,  when  it  dries  up  and  falls  off,  is  also  buried  just 
outside  the  threshold,  but  not  so  deep  ;  it  is  asserted  that 
should  it  be  eaten  up  by  any  animal,  the  child  will  sicken  and 
die.  If  the  stump  of  the  navel-string  is  buried  deep,  the  teeth 
of  the  baby,  it  is  said,  will  be  late  in  appearing  ;  but  if  the 
stump  is  buried  just  below  the  surface,  the  baby  will  teeth 
early /'  3 

The  Karwal  of  the  United  Provinces  of  India  observe 
certain  curious  rites  at  a  birth.  A  midwife  of  the  caste 
attends.  They  bury  the  umbilical  cord  and  placenta  with  a 
scorpion's  sting,  two  and  a  half  bits  of  donkey's  dung,  a  porcu- 
pine's intestines,  and  some  liquor.  The  scorpion's  sting  is 
supposed  to  render  the  babe  immune,  not  from  being  bitten 
by,  but  from  feeling,  the  bite  of  a  scorpion.  The  dung  is 
thought  to  prevent  an  excessive  secretion  of  bile,  the  intes- 
tines of  the  porcupine  to  ward  off  colds,  and  the  liquor  is 
thrown  in  for  luck.4  Among  the  Kurmi,  a  caste  of  culti- 
vators in  the  Central  Provinces  of  India, "  the  part  of  the  navel- 

1  C.    Jensen,    Die   nordfriesischen      Bough;     The   Magic  Art   and  the 
Inseln  (Hamburg,  1899),  p.  248.     In      Evolution  of  Kings  9  i.  182  $qq. 

regard  to  these  customs  concerning          8  Q    o     B         -,,      D-I,^    „„ 
r    j.      -11  4.    j.t_        j.     c    fr>i.    /-»  t j  *  o.   L*.    Koy,    J  ne  jstr/iors9   pp. 

first  milk-teeth  cast,  cf.  The  Golden  J*  '   rr 

Bough:     The   Magic   Art   and  the      22*  sq~ 

Evolution  of  Kings,  i.  178  sqq.  *  E.   A.    H.   Blunt,  in   Census  of 

1  With  what  follows  cf.  The  Golden      India,  1911,  vol.  xv.  Part  i.  p.  368. 


string  which  falls  off  the  child's  body  is  believed  to  have  the 
power  of  rendering  barren  women  fertile,  and  is  also  intimately 
connected  with  the  child's  destiny.  It  is  therefore  carefully 
preserved  and  buried  in  some  auspicious  place,  as  by  the  bank 
of  a  river."  l  Among  the  Brahuis  of  Baluchistan,  at  child- 
birth "  the  navel  is  bound  with  a  thread  of  blue  cotton.  But 
the  cord  that  is  severed  is  taken  away  and  buried  where  no 
dog  may  hap  upon  it  ;  for  should  it,  for  lack  of  care,  fall  a 
prey  to  a  dog  or  other  beast,  the  babe  grows  restless  and  a  lusty 
squaller."  2 

In  Annam  the  navel-string  and  the  afterbirth  are  reputed 

to  possess  particular  virtues  which  according  to  their  nature 

the  people  try  either  to  appropriate  or  to  guard  themselves 

against.     The  navel-string  should  be  kept  for  a  year,  and 

when  it  is  dry  they  use  it  to  calm  the  colics  of  the  child.     For 

this  purpose  they  roast  a  part  of  it  which  they  make  the  child 

swallow  with  some  drink.     When  the  part  of  the  navel-string 

which  remains  attached  to  the  child  falls  off,  they  gather  it  and 

hide  it  in  some  secret  place  until  they  can  make  use  of  it,  or 

they  hang  it  below  the  lamp  to  scare  off  evil  spirits,  or,  again, 

they  use  it  in  the  following  manner  ;  they  take  two  pieces  of 

brick  reddened  in  the  fire,  and  between  them  place  the  navel- 

string,  which  in  a  few  moments  is  reduced  to  ashes  :    they 

gather  the  residue  and  use  it  as  a  medicine  to  cure  the  slight 

indispositions  of  the  child.     The  afterbirth  is  also  reputed  to 

possess  beneficent  virtues  or  maleficent  influences,  which 

therefore  they  seek  either  to  take  advantage  of  or  to  avoid, 

according  to  the  case.     In  Tonquin  they  generally  bury  the 

afterbirth,  either  before  the  door  of  the  house,  or  in  a  certain 

place  where  they  may  go  from  time  to  time  to  see  the  state  of 

the  soil.     If  the  soil  grows  hard,  or  if  they  have  not  buried  the 

afterbirth  at  a  depth  of  more  than  a  metre,  the  infant  will  be 

subject  to  hiccup,  and  he  will  become  subject  to  fits  of  vomit- 

ing if  the  soil  should  be  too  loose.    At  other  times  the  after- 

birth is  preserved  with  lime  and  a  hundred  needles  in  an 

earthen  jar  which  is  hung  in  a  place  exposed  to  the  sun. 

This  practice  is  intended  to  ensure  the  life  of  the  child  in 

cases  where  the  parents  are  not  able  to  rear  the  child  them- 

/,iRV*V'  RTJs!,e11'  Tribes  and  Cast65         *  Deny*  Bray,  Life  History  of 
of  the  Central  Provinces,  iv.  72.  Brakvi  (London,  1913),  p.  *o/ 

!  MAGIC  5 

selves,  but  are  obliged  to  commit  it  to  the  care  of  strangers. 
Dumoutier  reports  almost  the  same  custom.  He  adds  that 
when  the  child  reaches  the  age  often  the  jar  is  taken  down  and 
thrown  into  the  current  of  a  river.  Sometimes,  but  very  rarely, 
the  mother,  to  be  certain  of  rearing  her  child,  must  eat  a 
portion  of  the  afterbirth,1 

The  people  of  Laos  in  Indo-China  never  consider  the 
afterbirth  as  useless  or  throw  it  away  in  any  corner :  they 
believe  that  it  remains  in  sympathetic  connection  with  the 
individual,  and  according  to  its  treatment  will  influence  his 
lot  in  various  ways.  Attached  to  the  highest  branch  of  a  tree 
in  the  courtyard,  it  becomes  the  prey  of  beneficent  spirits,  who 
will  prepare  for  the  child  a  happy  life.  Buried  in  the  garden, 
it  will  secure  the  fidelity  of  the  child  to  the  house  in  which  he 
was  born  :  he  will  never  leave  it.  Buried  under  the  house- 
ladder  it  will,  oddly  enough,  secure  the  child  from  pains  in  his 

Among  the  Looboos  of  Sumatra,  the  afterbirth  is  washed 
in  water  and  put  in  a  new  rice-pot,  which  is  then  closed  with 
a  piece  of  white  kain  (?)  and  buried  under  the  house.  A 
stone  is  put  over  the  spot  to  mark  it.  If  the  child  cries,  they 
think  that  ants  have  made  their  way  into  the  rice-pot  and 
are  biting  the  afterbirth  ;  so  they  pour  hot  water  on  the  ground 
over  the  buried  pot  in  order  to  drive  the  ants  away.3  Among 
the  Kooboos,  a  primitive  aboriginal  tribe  of  South-Eastern 
Sumatra,  the  natal  fluid  (amnii  liquor),  the  navel-string,  the 
afterbirth,  and  the  blood,  are  regarded  as  in  a  way  companions 
of  the  newly-born  child,  and  above  all  a  great  vital  power  is 
ascribed  to  the  navel-string  and  afterbirth  ;  because  they  are 
looked  upon  as  brothers  or  sisters  of  the  infant,  and  though 
their  bodies  have  not  come  to  perfection,  yet  their  soul  and 
spirit  are  just  as  normal  as  those  of  the  child  and  indeed  have 
reached  a  much  higher  stage  of  development.  The  navel- 
string  and  afterbirth  visit  the  man  who  was  born  with  them 
thrice  a  day  and  thrice  by  night  till  his  death,  or  they  hover 
near  him.  They  are  the  good  spirits,  a  sort  of  guardian  angel 

1  P,     Giran,    Magh    et    Religion      Societe  d* Anthropologie  de  JParis,  vi. 
Annamites  (Paris,  1912),  pp.  no  sq.        (Paris,  1912)  p.  473. 

2  G.     Maupetit,     "  Mceurs     Lao- 

tennes,"in  Bulletins *t Mtmoires  de  la         *  J.  Kreemer,  op.  cit.  p.  314. 


of  the  man  who  came  into  the  world  with  them  and  who  lives 
on  earth  ;  they  are  said  to  guard  him  from  all  eviL  Hence  it 
is  that  the  Kooboo  always  thinks  of  his  navel-string  and  after- 
birth before  he  goes  to  sleep,  or  to  work,  or  undertakes  a 
journey,  and  so  on.  Merely  to  think  of  them  is  enough  ; 
there  is  no  need  to  invoke  them,  or  to  ask  them  anything. 
By  not  thinking  of  them  a  man  deprives  himself  of  their  good 
offices.  Immediately  after  the  birth,  mother  and  child  are 
washed  and  the  afterbirth  and  navel-string  are  buried  about 
a  foot  deep  in  the  ground  close  by  the  spot  in  the  forest  where 
the  birth  took  place,  for  Kooboo  women  are  not  allowed  to 
bring  forth  in  the  village.  Before  they  return  to  the  house,  this 
spot  is  subjected  to  a  certain  magical  treatment  (gejampied^ 
for  were  this  precaution  omitted,  then  the  navel-string  and 
afterbirth,  instead  of  being  a  good  spirit  for  the  newly-born 
child  might  become  an  evil  spirit  and  visit  him  with  all  sorts 
of  calamities  out  of  spite  for  this  neglect.1 

Among  the  Dyaks  of  Borneo,  when  a  father  is  removing 
the  afterbirth  to  hang  it  on  a  tree  either  in  the  cemetery  or  on 
the  site  of  a  former  house  of  the  family,  he  is  solemnly  warned 
by  his  wife  not  to  look  to  the  right  or  the  left,  because  were 
he  to  do  so  the  new-born  child  would  squint.2  The  assump- 
tion obviously  is  that  by  turning  his  eyes  to  right  and  left 
the  father  will,  through  contagious  magic,  cause  the  child  to 
look  askew.  Among  the  Toradyas  of  Central  Celebes  in  like 
manner  the  person  who  carries  away  the  afterbirth  may  not 
look  to  the  right  or  to  the  left,  because  otherwise  the  newly- 
born  child  will  squint.  The  afterbirth  is  first  washed  in 
water,  and  then  wrapped  in  leaves.  It  is  then  laid  in  a  coco- 
nut shell  or  in  an  earthen  cooking-pot,  and  to  this  some  add 
spices.  Sometimes  the  afterbirth  is  buried  in  the  gutter  out- 
side the  house,  so  that,  whenever  it  rains,  it  is  continually 
washed.  Or  it  is  hung  or  laid  in  the  branches  of  a  tree- 
Generally  the  afterbirth  of  the  first  child  is  buried.  If  this 
child  lives,  the  afterbirth  of  the  second  child  is  also  buried. 

•  1jG'£  Jan<?0  rgenC  D,e  Koeboes  *  W-  Hcwell> "  Dyak  Ceremonies  in 

in  de  Onderafdeelmg  Koeboestreken  Pregnancy  and  Childbirth,"  in  Journal 

der  Residentae  Palembang,"  in  Bij-  of  the  Straits  Branch  of  the  Royal 

dragen  tot  de  Tool-,  Land-  en  Volken*  Asiatic  Society  (Dec.  1906),  pp.  »6, 

kunde  van  Nederlansch-IndiS,  Ixxxiii.  128 
(1910)  pp.  228  s#. 

I  ,  MAGIC  57 

But  if  this  child  dies,  the  afterbirth  of  the  second  child  is  not 
buried,  but  hung  on  a  tree.  They  say  that,  when  the  after- 
birth of  a  child  is  hung  on  a  tree  and  anything  happens  to  it, 
the  child  becomes  noisy.  All  this  implies  a  vital  connection 
between  a  child  and  its  afterbirth,  but  as  to  the  nature  of  that 
connection  the  Toradyas  have  no  clear  idea.1 

Among  the  Kiwai  of  British  New  Guinea  the  afterbirth 
is  placed  in  a  native  receptacle  (jbaru)  and  carried  away  and 
buried  secretly.  It  is  supposed  to  injure  any  one  who  might 
tread  upon  the  spot  where  it  is  buried,  and  if  a  sorcerer  were 
to  get  possession  of  it,  he  could,  by  means  of  it,  work  evil 
magic  on  the  mother,  father,  and  child.  If  the  woman 
entrusted  with  the  disposal  of  the  afterbirth  were  to  bury 
it  very  deep  and  to  plant  over  it  a  tree  of  a  certain  species,  the 
mother  would  never  bear  another  child.2  Among  the  Oro- 
kaiva  of  British  New  Guinea  "  the  afterbirth  is  treated  by 
various  alternative  methods,  some  of  which  are  thought  to 
affect  the  mother  subsequently.  It  may  be  placed  in  a  small 
receptacle  built  in  a  tree  where  it  is  left  to  decompose  ;  it 
may  be  buried  (if  at  the  butt  of  a  coconut  tree  the  roots  would 
enclose  or  constrict  it,  and  the  result  would  be  to  render  the 
mother  barren  in  future)  ;  I  have  been  told  that  it  may  be 
given  to  a  sow  to  eat,  '  when  it  is  supposed  to  effect  a  transfer 
of  fecundity  from  the  women  to  the  pig/  In  some  cases  a 
small  enclosure  is  built  underneath  the  house  expressly  to 
prevent  the  pig  gaining  access  to  the  afterbirth,  which  is 
allowed  to  fall  through  the  house  floor  ;  and  it  is  probably  the 
same  notion  at  work  :  if  the  animal  were  to  eat  the  afterbirth 
it  might  have  an  adverse  effect  on  the  woman's  fecundity/1  a 
Among  the  Kai  of  Northern  New  Guinea,  when  the  navel- 
string  falls  off  it  is  laid  upon  the  branch  of  a  fruit-tree.  The 
child,  especially  if  he  is  a  boy,  shall  thereby  become  a  good 
climber.  As  the  natives  have  to  obtain  their  fruit,  especially 
the  bread-fruit,  and  birds  and  their  eggs,  from  tall  trees,  it 
is  very  important  for  these  people  to  be  good  climbers.4 
Among  the  natives  about  Cape  King  William,  as  the  Germans 

1  Adrian!   and   Kruijt,  op.  tit.  ii.  *  F.  E.  Williams,  Orokaiva  Society 
48  sg.  (London,  1930),  pp.  94  sy. 

2  G.  Landtman,  The  Kiwai  Papu- 
ans of  British  N&w  Guinea,  p.  231.  4  Neuhauss,  op.  cit.  iii.  p.  27. 

58  MACK  CHAP. 

called  it,  in  Northern  New  Guinea,  when  the  navel-string  falls 
off,  it  is  fixed  to  the  edge  of  the  net  in  which  a  child  lies.    If 
the  child  is  of  male  sex,  the  navel-string,  when  the  child 
begins  to  walk,  is  loosened  from  the  net  and  shot  with  an 
arrow  at  a  tree,  so  that  it  hangs  from  above.     Thereby  the 
boy  will  be  able  to  climb  trees  in  order  later  to  take  fruit  from 
them.     Otherwise  the  child  when  he  grew  up  would  be  a 
mere  walker  on  earth,  which  would  be  hard  for  him.1     Simi- 
larly among  the  Yabim  of  Northern  New  Guinea,  the  navel- 
string  of  a  boy  is  put  in  a  small  netted  pocket  and  hung  on  a 
tree,  because  the  boy  must  often  climb  trees  in  after-life. 
For .  the  navel-strings  of  girls  no  such  custom  is  observed  ; 
but  if  the  mother  wishes  no  more  children  she  throws  the  navel- 
string  into  the  sea.     Otherwise  she  places  it  under  a  large 
stone,2    Among  the  Kulaman,  a  wild  tribe  of  the  Davao 
district  in  Mindanao,  one  of  the  Philippine  Islands,  "the  after- 
birth is  placed  in  the  care  of  an  old  woman  who  carries  it 
directly  to  a  sturdy  molave  tree  (  Vitex  littoralis  Decne)  and 
there  attaches  it  to  the  branches  '  so  that  the  child  may  be- 
come strong  like  the  tree.'     While  on  this  mission  the  bearer 
looks  neither  to  the  right  nor  to  the  left,  nor  does  she  hesitate, 
for  such  actions  on  her  part  might  influence  the  disposition 
of  the  child  or  cause  it  to  have  physical  deformities/'  * 

In  the  Marshall  Islands  of  the  western  Pacific  the  navel- 
string  of  a  boy  is  thrown  into  the  sea  in  order  that  he  may 
become  a  good  fisher  :  the  navel-string  of  a  girl  is  inserted 
in  a  leafy  pandanus  tree,  in  order  that  she  may  be  diligent  in 
plaiting  pandanus  fibre.4  In  the  Marquesas  Islands,  when  a 
birth  had  taken  place,  the  afterbirth  was  hastily  buried  under 
a  frequented  path  in  order  that  women  passing  over  the  spot 
might  acquire  from  the  afterbirth  the  gift  of  fecundity.* 

In  the  Kakadu  tribe  of  Northern  Australia  the  navel-string 
"  is  cut  off,  by  means  of  a  mussel-shell,  about  two  inches  from 
the  abdomen.  It  is  dried  and  carried  about,  until  the  child 
is  about  five  years  old,  in  one  of  the  small  bags  that,  in  the 
Kakadu  and  allied  tribes,  the  native  habitually  wears  sus- 

*  Neuhauss,  0.  tit.  m.  254.  «  p.   A.    Erdland,   Die   Marstatt* 

Neuhauss,  ^.  «/  ui.  296.  /«****  (Minister,   1914),  pp.   125, 

8  fray-Cooper     Cole,     The     Wild  338. 

Tnbes  0} 'the  Davao  District, Mindanao  *  M.  Radiguet,  Its  Dtmitrs  Sav- 

.Chicago,  1913),  p.  I56.  vafes  (paris   I8g2) 

I  MAGIC  59 

pended  from  a  string  round  the  neck.  When  once  the  child 
can  move  about  freely  it  is  merely  thrown  into  a  water  pool, 
without  any  ceremony,  but,  up  to  that  time  it  must  be  care- 
fully preserved  or  else  the  child  becomes  very  ill  and  probably 
dies.  Should  the  child  die  before  it  is  thrown  away,  it  is 
burnt,  but,  on  the  other  hand,  if  it  be  burnt  while  the  child  is 
still  alive,  either  before  or  after  such  time  as  the  child  can  walk 
about,  the  result  again  is  serious  illness  and  probably  death. 
If  the  child  dies  while  the  mother  is  carrying  the  Worlu  (navel- 
string),  the  death  is  attributed  to  the  fact  that  the  mother  has 
broken  one  of  the  kumali  (secret)  rules  ;  she  must,  they  say, 
have  eaten  forbidden  food  or  washed  in  deep  water,  so  that 
the  child's  spirit  has  gone  from  it*  The  father  says  to  the 
mother,  Bialila  niandida  ;  ameinajau  ngeinyimma  ;  bialila 
warija\  *  the  child  (was)  good;  what  kind  of  food  (have)  you 
(eaten) ;  the  child  is  dead.1  He  is  very  angry  with  the  woman, 
and  often  punishes  her  severely."  x 

Speaking  somewhat  vaguely  of  the  outlying  tribes  of 
Uganda  on  the  backwaters  of  the  Nile,  a  missionary  tells  us 
that  "  a  matter  of  supreme  importance  is  the  safe  disposal  of 
the  umbilical  cord,  which  in  the  hands  of  evilly  disposed 
persons  may  be  a  potent  source  of  danger.  If  the  cord  is 
found  and  burnt  by  an  enemy  of  the  family,  the  child  is  bound 
to  die,  so  the  mother  is  careful  to  bury  it  in  some  obscure  place 
away  in  the  jungle  ;  for  any  one  to  be  suspected  of  searching 
for  the  hiding-place  is  tantamount  to  being  suspected  of 
attempted  murder.  Then  the  father  must  be  careful,  accord- 
ing to  belief  in  Patiko,  on  no  account  to  cross  a  stream,  or, 
indeed,  any  water,  for  some  days  after  the  birth  of  his  child, 
or  dire  consequences  will  ensue."  2 

A  curious  branch  of  sympathetic  magic  consists  in  the 
treatment  of  wounds.  Instead  of  applying  treatment  to  the 
wound  the  surgeon,  or  rather  the  magician,  applies  it  to  the 
weapon  which  inflicted  the  wound,  or  to  something  else  which 
represents  it.  Elsewhere  I  have  given  examples  of  this  form 
of  primitive  surgery.8  Here  I  will  add  a  few  more.  Thus 

1  Baldwin  Spencer,  Native  Tribes      waters  of  the  Nile  (London,   1912), 
of  the  Northern    Territory  of  AuS'      p.  169. 

tralia,  p.  325.  *  The  Golden  Bough  :    The  Magic 

Art  and  the  Evolution  of  Kings^  i. 

*  A,   L.    Kitching,  On   the   Bach-      201  sqq. 

60  MA  GIC  CHAP. 

the  Kawars,  a  primitive  hill  tribe  in  the  Central  Provinces  ot 
India,  "  have  the  usual  belief  in  imitative  and  sympathetic 
magic.  If  a  person  is  wounded  by  an  axe  he  throws  it  first 
into  fire  and  then  into  cold  water.  By  the  first  operation  he 
thinks  to  dry  up  the  wound  and  prevent  its  festering,  and  by 
the  second  to  keep  it  cool."  *  In  the  Elgeyo  tribe  of  Kenya, 
when  a  thorn  has  been  extracted  from  a  wounded  foot  it  is 
carried  along  carefully  until  the  next  water  is  reached.  There 
it  is  buried  in  the  cool  mud.  This  treatment  of  the  thorn  is 
supposed  to  keep  the  wounded  foot  cool  and  to  prevent 
inflammation.2  Among  the  Ibibio  of  Southern  Nigeria, 
should  a  man  be  wounded  in  war  despite  all  the  magical  safe- 
guards with  which  he  has  armed  himself,  the  misfortune  is 
attributed  to  a  supposed  breach  of  fetish  law  inadvertently 
committed  or  to  the  superior  power  of  the  enemy's  magic. 
In  such  a  case,  instead  of  washing  the  wound  with  hot  water 
as  was  the  usual  custom,  the  native  doctor  used  to  go  into 
the  forest  and  cut  a  stick  the  size  of  the  gash.  This  sub- 
stitute was  washed  and  tended  as  though  it  were  the  real 
wound,  until  by  sympathetic  magic  the  injured  flesh  grew 

In  the  Kagoro  tribe  of  Northern  Nigeria,  if  a  man  is 
wounded  by  a  spear  or  sword  and  the  place  refuses  to  heal, 
the  weapon,  if  it  can  be  obtained,  is  washed  with  water, 
which  is  drunk  by  the  patient,  who  is  then  supposed  to 

The  form  of  contagious  magic  which  consists  in  applying 
medical  treatment  to  the  weapon  which  inflicted  a  wound 
instead  of  to  the  wound  itself  has  been  commonly  practised, 
and  doubtless  is  still  practised  here  and  there,  by  ignorant 
people  in  our  own  country.  "The  treatment  of  surgical  cases 
in  the  North  by  no  means  corresponds  to  that  pursued  by  the 
faculty.  When  a  Northumbrian  reaper  is  cut  by  his  sickle, 
it  is  not  uncommon  to  clean  and  polish  the  sickle.  Lately,  in 
the  village  of  Stamfordham,  a  boy  hurt  his  hand  with  a  rusty 

/  r^/y*  Russe11*  &&*  ond  Castes     Nigeria,  p.  234 ;  cf,  #.,  The 
of  the  Central  Provinces,  in.  401 .  of  Southern  Nigeria,  iii.  823. 

1  J.  A.  Massani,  The  Cliff  Dwellers  *  A-  J-  N-  Twroeame,  "  Notes  on 

oj  henya  (London,  1927),  p.  226.  Some     Nl£erian    Headhunted,"    in 

.                       •              '            '  Journal  of  the  Royal  Anthropological 

P.  A.  Talbot,  Life  in  Southern  Institute,  xlii.  (X9X2>  p.  x6l. 

I  MAGIC  bi 

nail.  The  nail  was  immediately  taken  to  a  blacksmith  to  file 
off  the  rust,  and  was  afterwards  carefully  rubbed  every  day, 
before  sunrise  and  after  sunset,  for  a  certain  time  ;  and  thus 
the  injured  hand  was  perfectly  healed.  .  .  .  This  curious 
mode  of  treatment  still  lingers  here  and  there.  Not  long  ago 
it  was  practised  on  a  hayfork  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Win* 
Chester,  and  I  lately  heard  a  reference  to  it  in  Devonshire.  A 
young  relation  of  mine,  while  riding  in  the  green  lanes  of  that 
county,  lamed  his  pony  by  its  treading  on  a  nail.  He  took 
the  poor  creature  to  the  village  blacksmith,  who  immediately 
asked  for  the  nail,  and,  finding  it  had  been  left  in  the  road, 
said,  as  he  shook  his  head,  *  Ah,  sir,  if  you  had  picked  it  up 
and  wiped  it,  and  kept  it  warm  and  dry  in  your  pocket,  there'd 
have  been  a  better  chance  for  your  pony,  poor  thing  !  *  .  .  . 
Again,  my  Sussex  informant  writes  :  *  Several  instances  of 
this  old  superstitious  remedy  have  come  under  my  observa- 
tion, but  the  most  remarkable  one  occurred  in  the  house  of  an 
acquaintance,  one  of  whose  men  had  fallen  down  upon  a 
sword-stick  and  inflicted  an  injury  on  his  back  which  confined 
him  to  his  bed  for  several  days.  During  the  whole  of  this 
time  the  sword-stick  was  hung  up  at  his  bed's  head,  and 
polished  night  and  day  at  stated  intervals  by  a  female  hand. 
It  was  also  anxiously  examined  lest  a  single  spot  of  rust  should 
be  found  on  it,  since  that  would  have  foretold  the  death  of 
the  wounded  man/  >>:L 

A  similar  belief  and  practice  in  regard  to  the  treatment  of 
wounds  by  contagious  magic  are  reported  from  Lincolnshire. 
"  Perhaps  the  most  extraordinary  notion  in  connection  with 
iron  is  the  firm  belief  that  when  it  has  inflicted  any  wound 
there  is  some  kind  of  sympathy  between  the  injury  and  its 
cause.  Only  a  very  short  time  before  I  left  the  Marsh  a  man 
was  badly  cut  by  the  knives  of  a  reaper,  and  in  spite  of  all  that 
medical  skill  could  do  he  died  the  next  day.  But  the  true 
reason  for  his  death  was  thus  accounted  for  by  a  Marshman, 
4  You  see,  he  were  nobutt  one  of  them  iggnerent  Irishmen  and 
they  knaws  nowt ;  if  they  hed  but  tekken  the  knife  off  and 
seen  to  that,  mebbe  he  wouldn't  have  died."  And  when  I 

1  W.  Henderson,  Notes  on  the  Polk-      Folk-lore  :  Northumberland  (London, 
lore  of  the  Northern  Counties  (Lon-       1904),  p.  46. 
don,  1879),  PP«  *57  sg.    Cf.  County 



myself  had  got  a  nasty  cut  in  the  face  from  a  bolt  which  flew 
out  of  a  bit  of  old  ship  wood  I  was  chopping  up,  my  own 
gardener,  a  particularly  intelligent  man,  asked  anxiously 
where  the  bolt  was,  and  suggested  that  the  wound  would  heal 
the  quicker  if  all  dirt  and  rust  were  carefully  taken  off  its 

edges."  a 

From  their  close  connection  with  the  wearer's  body  articles 
of  clothing  are  naturally  supposed  to  be  particularly  subject 
to  sympathetic  or  contagious  magic  ;  indeed  anything  which 
has  been  in  contact  with  the  person  may  be  dealt  with  by  the 
magician  on  the  same  principle.     Thus  among  the  Baganda 
of  Central  Africa  "  women  often  fell  ill,  and  in  some  instances 
died,  because  an  enemy  had  contrived  to  obtain  some  of  the 
weeds  which  they  had  handled  when  digging,  or  some  of  the 
earth  which  they  had  rubbed  from  their  hoe,  or  a  piece  of 
string  which  they  had  used  to  tie  the  blade  of  their  hoe  to  the 
handle,  or  again  a  shred  of  their  barkcloth  which  they  had 
thrown  down.     These  fragments  would  then  be  used  to  work 
magic  upon,  and  the  spell  would  either  cause  the  woman  to 
fall  sick,  or  in  some  cases  would  kill  her/1  *    Among  the 
natives  of  the  Central  Provinces  of  India  "  magic  spells  are 
performed  in  various  ways  with  or  without  the  aid  of  a 
magician  or  witch.    The  idea  that  it  is  possible  to  transfer  the 
fecundity  of  a  fertile  woman  to  a  barren  woman  is  at  the  root 
of  a  large  number  of  the  spells  used.     Thus  any  part  of  the 
body  or  any  article  of  apparel  of,  or  anything  that  has  received 
the  touch  of,  a  woman  who  has  had  child  (especially  if  it  is 
associated  with  the  time  when  she  was  in  taboo)  is  efficacious 
and  is  eagerly  sought  after  by  a  barren  woman,"  *    The  Kai 
of  Northern  New  Guinea  believe  that  everything  with  which 
a  man  comes  in  contact  retains  something  of  his  soul-stuff,  by 
working  on  which  a  sorcerer  may  do  the  man  himself  grievous 
hurt.    This  is  the  great  source  of  anxiety  to  the  natives  of 
New  Guinea.     Hence  the  native  is  at  great  pains  to  remove 
any  traces  of  his  presence  from  any  object  with  which  he  has 
been  in  contact.     If  upon  his  way  through  the  forest  he  leaves 
a  lock  of  his  hair  or  a  thread  of  his  girdle  on  a  thorny  bush,  he 

1  Heanley,   in   County   Folk-lore ;         »  J,  T.  Marten,  in  Census  o 
Lincolnshire  (London,  1908),  p.  112.        1911,  vol-  x.  Part  i.  p.  153, 
1  J.  Roscoe,  The  Baganda,  p,  344. 

l  MAGIC  63 

goes  no  further  until  he  has  removed  every  trace  of  it.  He 
throws  nothing  away.  Even  when  he  is  a  guest  at  a  friendly 
village  he  gathers  the  shells  of  the  betel-nuts  carefully  in  his 
pouch  which  he  always  carries  about  with  him  ;  or  he  throws 
the  remains  in  the  fire.  Even  the  places  where  he  sits  retain 
something  of  his  soul-stuff,  so  on  rising  he  is  careful  to  efface 
the  traces  of  his  person,  either  by  stamping  with  his  feet,  or  by 
poking  with  his  stick,  or  by  sprinkling  them  with  water  from 
a  stream.  Or  on  the  spot  he  places  certain  leaves  which  are 
believed  to  possess  the  property  of  driving  away  his  soul-stuff. 
The  soul-stuff  is  thought  of  itself  soon  to  depart,  but  it  is 
desirable  to  hasten  its  departure,  for  once  a  magician  gets 
possession  of  the  soul-stuff  the  original  owner  of  it  is  often 
supposed  to  be  a  doomed  man.1 

Of  the  bodily  impressions  of  which  magicians  avail  them- 
selves for  the  purpose  of  injuring  through  sympathetic  or 
contagious  magic  the  persons  who  made  the  impressions,  by 
far  the  commonest  appear  to  be  footprints.  As,  for  example, 
in  the  Kakadu  tribe  of  Northern  Australia,  "  still  another 
form  of  evil  magic  is  associated  with  the  mud  that  attaches 
itself  to  the  foot  of  a  native  walking  through  a  swamp.  When 
he  comes  on  to  dry  ground  he  naturally  scrapes  the  mud  off, 
generally  using  something  such  as  a  piece  of  paper  bark  to  do 
so.  If  another  man,  who  wishes  to  injure  him,  comes  across 
his  tracks,  he  gathers  up  some  of  the  mud  or  paper  bark  to 
which  it  is  attached.  He  wraps  it  in  some  more  paper  bark 
and  ties  it  round  with  string.  In  his  camp,  when  it  is  quite 
dry,  he  pounds  it  up  until  he  can  roll  it  into  a  ball,  and  then, 
as  in  the  previous  case,  places  it  in  a  hole  that  he  makes  at  the 
base  of  an  ant-hill  By  and  by  the  victim's  foot  breaks  out 
into  sores  which  gradually  spread  all  over  it.  The  toes  drop 
off,  and  the  hands  and  feet  decay.  No  medicine-man  can  do 
anything  to  counteract  this  form  of  magic.  It  is  a  disease 
which  is  every  now  and  then  met  with  among  the  Kakadu 
natives,  and  is,  superficially  at  least,  suggestive  of  leprosy."  « 
Speaking  of  the  Alligator  district  of  Northern  Australia,  to 
which  the  Kakadu  tribe  belongs,  another  writer  describes  the 
magic  of  footprints  as  follows :  "  Upon  other  occasions  in 

1  Neuhauss,  op.  tit.  iii.  1 17.  */  *&*  Northern.   Territory  of  Aus* 

1  BaW\vin  Spencer,  Native  Tribes      tralasic,  pp.  260  sq. 


the  same  district,  the  footprint  of  a  man  who  had  been  decreed 
to  die  might  be  found  upon  a  clay-flat  or  a  river-bank.  The 
track  must  be  intact ;  if  it  be  in  the  least  degree  imperfect  it 
is  considered  useless  for  the  purpose.  Taking  for  granted, 
then,  that  it  is  clear  and  well-defined,  the  mould  is  cut  out  of 
the  clay  in  toto  and  buried  in  an  ant-hill.  There  it  is  secreted 
until  such  time  as  the  spirit  of  the  doomed  man's  father  is 
supposed  to  be  in  attendance  at  a  ceremonial,  when  it  is 
fetched  and  broken  over  a  blazing  fire."  This  is  supposed  to 
seal  the  doomed  man's  fate.1 

In  New  Ireland  a  person  who  has  been  robbed  looks  for 
the  footprints  of  the  thief,  and  if  he  finds  them  he  takes  them 
up  and  performs  ceremonies  over  them,  which  he  supposes 
will  disable  the  malefactor,  and  so  prevent  him  from  doing 
further  mischief.2 

In  San  Cristoval,  one  of  the  Solomon  Islands,  when  a  man 
wishes  to  injure  an  enemy  he  will  sometimes  smear  his  own 
foot  with  lime  and  then  walk  step  by  step  in  the  foot-tracks  of 
his  foe,  believing  that  in  this  way  he  causes  the  man's  death. 
Or  he  takes  the  bone  of  a  dead  man,  scrapes  it,  and  sprinkles 
the  powder  on  the  tracks  of  his  enemy,  at  the  same  time  driving 
the  bone  into  the  footprints,  as  a  man  would  drive  a  naiL 
The  death  of  the  man  whose  footprints  have  thus  been  treated 
is  supposed  to  follow.8    A  similar  form  of  magic  dealing  with 
footprints  is  practised  in  other  Solomon  Islands.    When  a 
man  finds  the  footprints  of  his  enemy  he  will  take  them  up 
and  carry  them  home  with  him.    This  is  supposed  to  cause  his 
enemy's  feet  and  legs  to  break  out  into  sores.     Such  sores  arc 
common  among  natives  of  the  Solomon  Islands,  and  they  arc 
often  attributed  to  the  magic  of  this  use  of  his  footprints  by  an 
enemy.    When  a  man  suspects  another  of  having  thus  be- 
witched him,  he  will  get  a  friend  or  relative  to  go  to  the  sus- 
pected magician  and  persuade  him  to  throw  away  the  earth 
from  the  footprints.     If  after  that  the  sores  on  the  man's 
legs  and  feet  do  not  heal,  his  friends  will  make  war  on  the 
suspected  magician.4 

1  H.    Basedow,    The    Australian      1916)  p.  48. 

Aboriginal,  p.  175.  »  C.  E,  Fox,  The  Threshold  of  the 

2  P.  F.  Hees,  "  Ein  Beitrag  a«s     Pacific  (London,  1924),  p.  262. 

den    Sagen    und    Erzahlungen    der         4  R.  Thurnwald,  F&rsthungen  auf 
Nakanai,"  in  Anthropos,  x.-xi,  (1915-      dtn$al&mo*In$eln  (Berlin,  191 

i  MAGIC  65 

The  Kiwai  of  British  New  Guinea  seem  to  think  it  hopeless 
to  pursue  an  enemy  when  he  has  got  a  good  start,  so  all  that 
they  do  is  to  shoot  arrows  into  his  footprints,  or  they  have 
recourse  to  other  forms  of  magic  for  his  injury,  which  are 
supposed  to  act  at  a  distance.1  At  Kerema  in  the  Elema 
district  on  the  south  coast  of  British  New  Guinea  we  hear 
of  a  man  who  seriously  believed  that  another  native  had 
killed  his  wife  by  collecting  some  sand  out  of  her  foot- 
prints, and  had  then  placed  the  sand  in  a  small  bamboo  with 
the  requisite  medicine.2 

The  Malays  believe  that  a  person's  soul  may  be  attacked 
through  objects  that  have  come  into  contact  with  its  owner. 
"  One  way  to  abduct  a  girl's  soul  is  to  *  take  sand  or  earth 
from  her  footprint  or  from  her  garden  path  or  the  front  of  her 
door  or  from  her  carriage  wheels  or  her  pony's  hooves.' 
Frying  the  soul-substance  in  oil,  one  recites  a  charm  : 

I  am  burning  the  liver,  the  heart,  the  lusts,  and  passions  of  my 


So  that  she  is  broken  and  hot  with  love, 
Madly  in  love  with  me,  and  restless, 
Burning  as  this  sand  burns."  3 

To  bewitch  an  enemy,  his  horse  or  his  ox,  the  Palaungs 
of  Burma  will  take  earth  from  his  footprints  or  from  the 
tracks  of  his  animals,  so  that  all  the  earth  from  the  foot- 
print is  secured,  whether  broken  or  in  one  mass.  This 
should  be  wrapped  in  large  leaves  and  roasted  over  a  slow 

In  Izumo,  a  district  of  Japan,  if  a  house  has  been  robbed 
in  the  night  while  the  inmates  are  asleep,  when  they  wake  in 
the  morning  they  will  look  for  the  footprints  of  the  burglars, 
and  if  they  find  them  they  will  burn  mugwort  in  them.  By 
this  operation  it  is  hoped  or  believed  that  the  burglar's  feet 
will  be  made  so  sore  that  he  cannot  run  far,  and  that  the  police 
may  easily  overtake  him.5 

1  G.  Landtman,  "  The  Magic  of  logical  Institute,  xlix.  (1919)  P-  293- 
the  Kiwai  Papuans  in  Warfare,"  in         *  R.  O.  Winstedt,  Shaman,  Saiva, 

Journal  of  the  Royal  Anthropological  and  Sufi,  p.  67. 
Institute,  xlvi.  (1916)  p.  330.  *  Mrs.  L.  Milne,  The  Home  of  an 

*  W.  M.  Strong,  "  Some  Personal  Eastern  Clan,  p.  263. 
Experiences  of  British  New  Guinea,"         *  L.  Hearn,  Glimpses  of  Unfamiliar 

in  Journal  of  the  Ro$al  Anthropo-  Japap  (London,  1905)*  "• 

66  MACK  CHAP. 

Among  the  Angoni,  Senga,  and  Tumbuka  of  Central 
Africa  it  is  believed  that  if  a  man's  footprints  be  stabbed  or 
cupped  by  his  enemy,  in  the  morning  he  would  be  found  in  his 
hut  bleeding  from  wounds,  or  blistered  and  dying.1  Among 
the  Wajagga  of  Mount  Kilimanjaro  in  East  Africa,  when  a 
blacksmith  has  been  robbed  he  takes  earth  from  the  footprints 
of  the  thief,  wraps  them  carefully  in  the  skin  of  a  banana  and 
lays  them  on  the  coals  of  his  smithy  fire.  He  begins  to  blow 
up  the  fire  with  his  bellows.  He  himself  stands  opposite  and 
utters  the  curse-formula  :  "  You,  who  have  stolen  such-and- 
such  from  me,  may  you  swell  up  like  a  tree,  and  burst  like  a 
worm  in  the  fire/'  If  after  that  any  one  dies  in  the  land  with 
appearances  of  swelling,  then  they  see  in  this  the  results  of 
the  curse.  Thus  it  comes  about  that  the  smith  can  leave  all 
his  tools  and  implements  openly  about,  because  no  one  would 
dare  to  steal  them.2  Among  the  Teso  people  of  Uganda  one 
mode  of  injuring  an  enemy  is  to  collect  earth  from  his  foot- 
prints and  to  mix  it  with  medicine  procured  from  some  one 
skilled  in  such  concoctions.  The  mixture  is  laid  by  in  a 
potsherd,  and  then  the  feet  of  the  unfortunate  enemy  will 
soon  begin  to  swell  mysteriously  and  the  skin  to  peel  off.5 
In  Loango  the  footprints  of  an  enemy  are  magically  treated 
for  his  injury  in  various  ways.  Sometimes  magical  objects 
are  deposited  on  them,  sometimes  a  frog  is  made  to  jump  in 
them,  sometimes  earth  from  the  footprint  is  taken  up  and 
treated  magically,  sometimes  it  suffices  to  spit  upon  the  foot- 
prints or  obliterate  them,  and  at  the  same  time  to  think  or  to 
murmur  a  curse.4 

Elsewhere  I  have  attempted  to  show  *  that  in  the  history 
of  human  thought  the  belief  in  magic  has  preceded  religion 
or  the  worship  of  the  gods  ;  but  even  when  men  have 
attained  to  a  belief  in  the  gods  they  still  often  think,  as  in 
ancient  Egypt,  that  the  gods  can  be  influenced  or  controlled 
by  the  spells  of  the  magicians.  Thus  with  regard  to  the 
Oraons,  a  primitive  people  of  India,  we  are  told  by  a  good 

?,"  E^1?'  Winn™*  a  ^mitive      waters  of  the  Nil*>  p. 

d  und 


I  MAGIC  67 

authority  that  "  the  Oraon's  normal  attitude  towards  his 
deities  is  that  of  a  human  being  towards  other  human  beings 
more  crafty  and  powerful  than  himself ;  and  control  through 
magic,  and  not  propitiation  by  service,  is  the  ideal  method  of 
dealing  with  his  gods."  l 

1  S.  C.  Roy,  The  Oraons,  p.  225. 



IN  primitive  society  a  most  important  function  of  magic  is 
its  use  to  control  the  weather  for  the  good  of  the  tribe  by 
causing  the  rain  to  fall,  the  sun  to  shine,  and  the  wind  to 
blow  in  due  season.  On  the  proper  discharge  of  this  function 
it  is  believed  that  the  prosperity  and  indeed  the  existence  of 
the  tribe  is  absolutely  dependent.  Accordingly  the  magicians 
who  profess  to  discharge  the  office  of  weather-makers  are 
extremely  important  personages,  and  sometimes,  especially 
in  Africa,  they  rise  to  the  position  of  head-men  or  chiefs  of 
the  tribe.  In  any  case,  at  this  stage  of  development  they  are 
no  longer  private  practitioners  of  magic,  but  public  function- 
aries to  whom  the  whole  tribe  looks  for  maintaining  the  food 
supply,  and  who  may  pay  with  their  lives  for  any  failure  to 
exercise  their  craft  to  the  satisfaction  of  the  people.  Else- 
where I  have  dealt  at  some  length  with  the  magical  control 
of  the  weather  :  a  here  I  must  content  myself  with  adducing 
some  fresh  evidence  on  the  subject,  beginning  with  the  magical 
control  of  rain. 

In  San  Cristoval,  one  of  the  Solomon  Islands,  "  to  get 
rain,  fine  weather,  wind,  calm,  and  so  on,  it  is  common  to  use 
sympathetic  magic.  Thus  to  get  rain  water  is  poured  into  a 
teteu,  '  half  of  a  coconut  shell,'  a  charm  is  said,  and  the  teteu 
is  lifted  up  towards  the  sky  ;  or  a  coconut  frond  is  taken  and 
bent  over  to  form  an  arch  representing  the  whole  sky  clouded 
over,  and  then  when  you  wish  to  stop  the  rain  the  frond  is 
broken.  So  to  get  sunshiny  weather  take  a  fan  and  say  a 
charm  and  wave  the  fan  about,  sweeping  away  the  clouds,  or 

*  The  Golden  Bough  ;  The  Magic  Art  and  the  Evolution  of  Kings,  i  244 



do  the  same  merely  with  the  hands*  Or  to  get  wind  take  a 
pandanus  mat  and  tie  it  up."  x  The  flapping  of  the  mat 
with  every  breath  of  air  is  probably  supposed  to  raise  a  wind. 
At  Padada  in  Mindanao,  when  the  people  have  planted  the 
rice,  the  planters  take  their  planting-sticks  and  place  them  on 
an  offering  of  rice  and  pour  water  over  them.  In  this  way  they 
think  they  secure  a  plentiful  supply  of  rain  for  the  rice  crop  by 
imitative  magic.2  When  the  Kiwai  of  British  New  Guinea 
find  that  the  garden  crops  are  withering  and  they  wish  to  make 
rain,  they  concoct  a  magic  medicine  with  the  following  in- 
gredients :  some  sweet-smelling  bark  of  the  sanea  tree,  a  wild 
juicy  fruit  of  a  certain  tree,  and  a  little  of  a  certain  swamp  am- 
phibian. All  these  are  mixed  in  a  vessel,  and  water  both  from 
a  swamp  and  the  sea,  as  well  as  sap  from  a  tree,  is  poured  on. 
Taking  the  vessel  with  its  contents  to  the  beach,  the  magician 
dips  a  pig's  tail  into  it,  and  sprinkles  the  mixture  into- the  air, 
thus  imitating  the  fall  of  rain.  He  may  also  take  some  of  it 
into  his  mouth  and  blow  it  out.  He  then  utters  a  spell  which 
is  intended  to  cover  the  heaven  with  dark  clouds,  shutting 
out  the  light  like  the  roof  of  a  house.  Two  beings  in  the  sky, 
called  Deboa  and  Sura,  are  occasionally  invoked  to  send  down 
rain.  In  appealing  to  them  the  sorcerer  takes  water  in  his 
mouth  and  blows  it  upwards.8  In  this  last  ceremony  imita- 
tive magic  is  supplemented  by  an  appeal  to  heavenly  beings  ; 
here,  as  so  often,  magic  is  reinforced  by  religion. 

The  Bare'e-speaking  Toradyas  of  Central  Celebes  employ 
the  dry  method  of  cultivating  rice.  Hence  they  are  wholly 
dependent  on  rain  and  drought  in  the  proper  seasons  for  the 
prosperity  of  the  crops.  When  rain  is  wanted,  people  go  to 
a  stream  and  splash  or  squirt  water  on  each  other,  or  they 
make  a  plumping  sound  on  the  water  with  the  hands.  To 
make  rain  they  sometimes  also  have  recourse  to  certain  water- 
snails.  These  are  hung  by  a  string  on  a  tree,  and  told  that 
till  rain  falls  they  will  not  be  put  back  in  the  water.  So  they 
appeal  to  the  gods,  who  in  pity  send  rain.4  Here  again  once 
more  we  find  magic  reinforced  by  religion. 

1  C.  E.  Fox,  The  Threshold  of  the          *  G.  Landtman,  The  Kiwai  Papu- 
Pacific>  p.  262.  ans  of  British  New  Guinea,  p.  6l. 

2  Fay-Cooper     Cole,     The     Wild 

Tribes  of  the  DWM  District,  Min~          *  Adriani    and    Kruijt,  op.  dt.  ii, 
danao,  p.  160,  258. 


The  Lakhers  of  Assam  are  an  agricultural  people,  and 
therefore  need  a  regular  fall  of  rain  in  order  to  ensure  their 
subsistence.  To  procure  rain  they  resort  to  a  variety  of 
charms,  based  on  homoeopathic  or  imitative  magic.  Thus 
in  Saiko  a  chosen  man  is  sent  out  to  fetch  a  stalk  of  wild 
cardamum  (Amomum  dealbatum).  The  cardamum  stalk  is 
planted  in  the  village  street,  and  the  man  who  brought  it  rubs 
it  up  and  down  with  his  hand.  When  rubbed,  the  cardamum 
stalk  makes  a  noise,  "Vut,  uut,  vut"  which  the  Lakhers  say 
resembles  thunder,  and  while  the  man  who  is  performing  the 
ceremony  is  rubbing  the  stalk,  another  man  pours  a  bamboo 
tube  full  of  water  over  his  back.  The  water  resembles  rain, 
and  incidentally  in  running  down  the  cardamum  stalk  it  helps 
to  increase  the  noise  of  the  thunder.  The  day  on  which  this 
ceremony  is  performed  the  whole  village  is  taboo  (pana). 
Another  method  used  in  Siaha  and  also  in  Saiko  is  as  follows. 
An  eel  is  caught  and  its  head  cut  off  and  fixed  to  a  pole 
planted  on  the  roadside  and  pointed  to  the  sky.  Water  is 
poured  on  to  the  eel,  and  also  on  to  the  person  holding  it  up  to 
the  sky.  As  the  eel  lives  in  water  it  is  believed  that  when  it 
ia  killed  its  spirit  becomes  very  thirsty,  and  if  its  head  is 
pointed  up  to  the  sky  in  this  way  its  spirit  is  sure  to  bring  rain. 
On  the  day  of  the  ceremony  the  village  is  taboo  (pana).  In 
Savang,  if  drought  is  threatened,  the  villagers  go  down  to  the 
Tisi  River.  There  they  find  a  stone  with  a  large  hole  in  its 
top  which  contains  water,  bale  all  the  water  out,  and  then 
sacrifice  a  fowl  near  the  stone,  and  place  the  sacrificial  parts  of 
the  fowl,  that  is,  the  tongue  and  the  tail,  in  the  hole.  The 
fowl  is  then  cooked,  and  a  little  of  its  liver  and  meat  are  placed 
inside  the  hole,  and  the  rest  of  it  is  eaten.  They  think  that 
the  spirit  who  lives  in  the  hollow  stone  will  call  down  rain  to 
fill  its  home  with  water  again.  Having  eaten  the  chicken  they 
all  go  home,  and  the  rest  of  the  day  is  taboo  (pana).  After 
a  few  days  the  stone  is  inspected,  and  if  it  has  filled  up  with 
water  and  small  fish  are  swimming  about,  the  omen  is  favour- 
able and  good  crops  are  expected  ;  if,  however,  the  stone  fails 
to  fill  up  with  water,  it  is  believed  that  a  drought  will  occur. 
In  the  Kawlchaw  River  there  is  a  deep  pool  called  Siataw,  with 
overhanging  precipices.  The  Lakhers  believe  that  if  fish  are 
poisoned  in  this  pool  rain  will  fall,  because  the  spirit  of  the 

n         THE  MAGICAL  CONTROL  OF  THE  WEATHER        71 

pool  is  annoyed  when  the  fish  in  his  pool  are  poisoned.  Hence 
in  times  of  drought  the  people  of  Saiko  poison  the  pool  in 
hopes  of  thereby  procuring  rain.1 

The  Ao,  another  agricultural  tribe  of  Assam,  in  order  to 
procure  rain  for  their  rice,  practise  various  charms,  some  of 
which  resemble  those  of  the  Lakhers.  "  Usually  either  a 
stream  is  '  poisoned  '  and  fished  with  due  rites,  or  sacrifices 
are  offered  to  certain  of  the  sacred  stones  which  abound  in  Ao 
land.  The  custom  of  poisoning  a  stream  for  rain  is  universal 
throughout  the  country*  Usually  the  water  is  first  either 
exhorted  or  mocked.  For  instance,  Longmisa  go  down  to  a 
certain  pool  in  the  Dikhu  with  fish  poison.  Arrived  at  the 
bank,  all  put  leaf  rain-shields  over  their  heads  as  if  rain 'were 
falling,  and  an  old  man,  selected  by  a  medicine-man  as  one 
whose  action  will  be  efficacious,  first  enters  the  water  and 
pounds  his  bundle  of  poison  and  says  :  *  Is  there  no  rain  in 
the  sky  ?  Of  course  there  is.  Let  it  rain  and  never  stop  till 
the  river  is  big  enough  to  carry  away  an  old  man.'  The  pool 
is  then  fished  in  the  ordinary  way.  Changki  are  even  ruder 
in  their  treatment  of  the  water.  They  go  down  to  the  Disoi 
and  dam  up  one  of  the  branches  at  a  place  where  a  little  island 
divides  it — a  very  common  method  of  fishing  among  the 
Ao.  One  of  the  elders  says  :  '  You  are  so  low  we  can  bail 
you  dry  with  our  dao-holders  (knife-sheaths).  We  do  not 
need  bamboo  dishes  '  (such  as  ordinarily  used  to  bail  the  water 
out  of  a  dammed-up  channel).  The  elders  then  get  into  the 
water  and  splash  it  up-stream  with  their  dao-holders.  Then 
the  channel  is  bailed  dry  in  the  ordinary  way  and  the  trapped 
fish  caught.  After  this,  for  very  shame,  the  heavens  open  and 
the  stream  comes  down  in  flood.  Most  Ao  sacred  stones  are 
connected  with  the  weather.  In  fact  they  are  as  a  rule  too 
powerful  rain-producers  to  be  pleasant,  and  to  meddle  with 
or  insult  one  entails  a  violent  storm.  But  some,  by  respect- 
ful sacrifices,  can  give  rain  in  moderation.  Merangkong 
are  so  cautious  that  they  operate  at  long  range,  and  release 
a  cock  in  the  village  street  in  honour  of  two  stones  away 
down  in  the  valley  at  the  junction  of  the  Tsumak  and  Melak 
streams.  Mongsenyimti  release  a  red  cock  with  no  white 
spots  in  honour  of  Shitilung  ('  elephant  stone '),  a  particularly 

*  N.  E.  Parry,  The  Lakhers  (London,  1932),  pp.  452  sqq. 


powerful  stone   just  below  the  village.    .   .    .    Some    rain 
ceremonies   are  nothing   but   very  crude    imitative  magic. 
For  instance,   Changki,    besides   fishing    in   the   Disoi,    go 
to  a  boulder  called  Alungterungbaba  and,  rattling  a  stick 
about  in  a  hole  in  the  stone,  make  a  noise  which  is  supposed 
to  resemble  that  of  rain  falling.     Another  method,  practised 
in  Merangkong,  is  to  lead  water  in  bamboo  aqueducts  from 
certain  streams  to  the  village  paths  and  sacrifice  a  cock  with 
a  prayer  that  rain  may  come,1'  *     In  this  account,  which  I 
have  borrowed  from  Mr.  Mills'  valuable  monograph  on  the 
Ao,  the  sacrifices  and  prayers  are  religious,  but  the  rest  of  the 
ceremony  is  magical.     As  usual,  primitive  man   does  not 
hesitate  to  have  recourse  to  religion  when  he  thinks  it  will 
answer  his  purpose  better  than  the  old  magical  rites.     The 
same  blending  of  religion  with  magic  meets  us  in  a  ceremony 
which  the  Garos,  another  agricultural  tribe  of  Assam,  per- 
form for  the  purpose  of  procuring  rain.     Among  them  "  the 
rain  god  is  invoked  in  cases  of  long-continued  drought  in  the 
Wachikrita  or  Salgurua  sacrifice.     The  ceremony  is  a  curious 
one  and  worth  describing.     All  the  male  members  of  the 
village  repair  to  a  big  rock  in  the  neighbourhood,  each  person 
holding  a  gourd  of  water  in  his  hand.     The  priest  recites  a 
•prayer  to  implore  the  god  to  have  mercy  on  them,  sacrifices 
a  goat,  and  smears  its  blood  upon  the  rock.     The  assembled 
persons  then  pour  the  contents  of  their  gourds  over  the 
unfortunate  priest  to  the  accompaniment  of  the  beating  of 
drums  and  the  blowing  of  wind  instruments. "  * 

The  same  instructive  combination  of  religion  with  magic 
appears  in  the  ceremonies  which  the  Oraons,  a  primitive 
agricultural  tribe  of  Chota  Nagpur  in  India,  observe  for  the 
purpose  of  procuring  rain.  These  have  been  well  described 
by  Mr.  Sarat  Chandra  Roy  as  follows  :  "  A  notable  instance 
of  imitative  magic  is  the  Oraon  ceremony  of  rain-making. 
When  rain  is  badly  wanted  in  any  part  of  the  Oraon 
country,  the  Oraons  of  each  village  fix  a  day  for  the  rain- 
making  ceremony.  On  the  morning  of  the  appointed  day 
the  women  of  the  village,  with  the  wife  of  the  village  priest 
or  Pahan  at  their  head,  proceed  to  the  village  spring  or  tank, 

1  J.  P.  Mills,  The  Ao  Nagas  (Lon-          *  A.  Playfair,  The  Garos  (London 
don,  1926),  pp.  131  Jy,  1909),  p.  88, 

II          THE  MAGICAL  CONTROL  OF  THE  WEATHER        73 

and  there,  after  ablution,  each  woman  fills  her  pitcher  (lota) 
with  water,  and  all  proceed  in  a  body  to  a  sacred  pipar 
tree  (Ficus  religiosa).  Before  these  women  have  had  their 
ablutions  and  are  gone  with  their  lotas  towards  the  sacred 
pipar-tetz,  no  one  else  that  morning  is  allowed  to  touch  the 
water  of  the  tank  or  spring.  On  their  arrival  at  the  sacred 
tree,  all  the  women  simultaneously  pour  the  water  in  their 
pitchers  over  the  foot  of  the  tree,  saying,  '  May  rain  fall  on 
earth  like  this.'  The  wife  of  the  village-priest  now  puts 
marks  of  vermilion,  diluted  in  oil,  on  the  trunk  of  the  tree. 
After  this  the  women  depart,  and  the  village  priest  or  Pahan 
proceeds  to  sacrifice  a  red  cock  to  the  god  Baranda  at  the  spot. 
It  is  firmly  believed  by  the  Oraons  that  within  a  day  or  two 
after  this  ceremony  rain  is  bound  to  fall.  And  in  olden  times, 
it  is  said,  a  heavy  shower  of  rain  would  even  overtake  the 
women  on  their  way  home  from  the  sacred  tree.  In  this  case, 
apparently,  direct  alliance,  by  sacrifice  and  by  anointing  the 
tree  with  vermilion,  have  been  superimposed  on  what  was 
once,  perhaps,  purely  a  ceremony  of  imitative  magic.  Such 
combination  of  imitative  magic  with  prayer  and  sacrifice  is  a 
prominent  feature  in  the  chief  religious  festival  of  the  Oraons. 
This  festival,  known  as  the  Khaddi  or  Sarhul,  is  celebrated 
when  the  ^/-flowers  are  in  blossom  in  the  month  of  April, 
shortly  before  the  time  for  sowing  paddy  in  their  fields. 
Seasonable  rain  and  plenty  of  it  is  a  necessity  to  the  agricul- 
turalist. And  the  Oraon  is,  above  all,  an  agriculturalist. 
Naturally,  therefore,  he  leaves  no  expedient  untried  to  ensure 
plenty  of  rain.  Thus,  when  on  the  occasion  of  the  Sarhul 
festival,  the  village-priest  or  Pahan  and  his  assistant,  the 
Pujar,  go  in  procession  from  house  to  house,  the  women  pour 
large  jarfuls  (g haras)  of  water  over  the  head,  first  of  the  priest, 
then  of  his  assistant,  and  finally  over  the  head  of  everyone 
and  anyone  ;  and  all  the  Oraons  revel  in-  water  on  that  day 
and  splash  mud  on  each  other  so  as  to  present  the  mud- 
besmeared  appearance  of  persons  sowing  paddy-seeds  in 
mud.  By  this  they  hope  to  have  plenty  of  seasonable  rain  for 
their  agricultural  operations.  A  further  custom  observed  on 
the  same  occasion,  of  all  the  Oraon  families  of  a  village  heap- 
ing rice  on  the  sacred  winnowing-basket  (sup}  which  the 
P;ihan  carries  in  procession,  and  the  Pahan  dropping  rice 


from  his  sup  all  along  the  route  as  he  proceeds,  and  his 
assistant,  the  Pujar,  continually  dropping  water  from  his 
batari  or  pitcher  with  a  tube  attached  to  it,  all  along  the 
route,  is  another  instance  of  imitative  magic  for  securing 
plenty  of  rain  and  crops.  "  x 

With  regard  to  the  Birhors,  a  primitive  jungle  tribe  of 
Chota  Nagpur,  we  are  informed  that  "  as  the  Birhors,  as  a 
tribe,  have  not  yet  taken  to  agriculture,  they  scarcely  feel  the 
need  for  seasonal  rains.  Those  few  Jag  hi  families  among 
them  who  have  secured  lands  for  cultivation  have  adopted 
from  their  Munda  neighbours  their  magical  rain-making 
ceremony,  which  is  as  follows  :  Early  in  the  morning  they  go 
up  the  nearest  hill  and  push  down  stones  of  all  sizes  which 
produce  a  rumbling  noise  in  falling  to  the  ground  ;  and  this 
noise  is  at  the  same  time  intensified  by  beating  a  drum  so  as 
to  produce  a  low  heavy  continued  sound  in  imitation  of  the 
pattering  of  rain  on  the  roofs  of  their  huts."  2 

In  the  Thana  District  of  the  Bombay  Presidency,  in  order 
to  procure  rain,  stones  are  taken  out  of  a  pool  and  worshipped. 
They  are  then  carried  to  every  house  in  the  village,  and  water 
is  poured  upon  them  by  the  inmates.  Further,  in  the  same 
district,  as  a  charm  for  rain  "  the  villagers  go  from  house  to 
house  with  boughs  of  the  Nim  tree  (Melia  Azadirachtd)  on 
their  heads,  and  water  is  then  poured  upon  them  by  the 
inmates.  In  the  Deccan,  boys  cover  their  heads  with  twigs 
and  leaves  of  the  Nim  and  go  round  naked.  Water  is  poured 
over  their  heads  and  thus  rain  is  brought."  * 

The  carrying  of  some  symbol  suggestive  of  rain  or  the 
fertility  that  comes  with  rain,  and  the  drenching  of  the  bearers 
with  water,  suggestive  of  a  fall  of  rain,  are  features  of  cere- 
monies for  the  procuring  of  rain  observed  in  Khandesh,  the 
Deccan,  and  the  Karnatak.  Bhils  of  the  Navapur  Peta  make 
an  image  of  earth  adorned  with  green  plantain-leaves  and 
flowers  and  place  it  on  a  board,  which  an  unmarried  girl 
carries  through  the  village,  accompanied  by  other  women 
singing  rain  songs  and  praying  for  rain.  At  each  house  she 

T                Witch-  *  S-    C-    R°y>    ™*    Birhors,    pp, 

craft  on  the  Chota  Nagpur  Plateau,"  369  ^                                                FP 

Journal  of  the  Royal  Anthropo-  »  R.  £.  Enthovi-n,  Folklore  of  Bom^ 

xhv,  (i9l4)  p.  330.  bay  (Oxford,  19-14},  M>,  318,  323. 

II          THE  MAGICAL  CONTROL  OF  THE  WEATHER        75 

passes  she  receives  grain  and  is  drenched.  Pavra,  Naira,  and 
Nahal  Bhils  perform  Varhatya.  Boys  and  girls  under  nine 
years  of  age  go  from  house  to  house  on  four  successive  nights, 
accompanied  by  men  bearing  torches  which  simulate  light- 
ning. The  girls,  who  are  drenched  at  each  house,  sing  :  — 

Dondhya,  Dondhya,  give  rain, 
Make  rice  and  pulse  grow. 
'  and  bajri  grow.1 

The  Gonds,  the  principal  Dravidian  tribe  of  India,  have  a 
peculiar  ceremony  for  procuring  rain  by  means  of  ploughing. 
Two  naked  women  go  out  and  harness  themselves  to  a  plough 
by  night,  while  a  third  naked  woman  drives  the  plough  and 
pricks  them  with  a  goad.2  A  similar  mode  of  procuring  rain 
by  a  ceremony  of  ploughing  is  known  to  the  Brahuis  of 
Baluchistan,  among  whom  the  rite  is,  or  used  to  be,  performed 
by  the  chief  himself.  On  this  subject  Mr.  Denys  Bray  writes 
as  follows  : 

"  In  the  old  days  a  halo  of  divinity  surrounded  the  leaders 
of  the  Brahui  Confederacy.  Accredited  with  authority  over 
the  forces  of  Nature,  they  were  held  directly  accountable  for 
seasons  good  and  bad.  When  famine  was  sore  in  the  land 
the  Brahui  would  look  to  the  Khan  (ruler)  to  exercise  his 
divine  powers  and  bring  down  the  rain  for  which  the  earth 
cried  out.  Then  would  the  Khan  doff  his  fine  clothes  for  the 
woollen  overcoat  of  the  peasant,  and  drive  a  yoke  of  oxen 
across  a  rain-crop  field.  Twice  has  my  informant  seen  the 
ruler  of  the  country  put  hand  to  the  plough  to  compel  the  rain 
to  fall  ;  and  so  efficacious  was  the  second  ploughing  that  the 
people  began  to  fear  another  deluge.  But  my  informant  is 
now  an  old,  old  gentleman,  and  the  ruler  he  saw  ploughing 
was  Nasir  Khan  II,  who  has  been  dead  these  sixty  years  or 
more.  .  .  .  But  happily  for  them,  the  Brahuis  are  not  wholly 
dependent  on  their  chiefs.  When  the  flocks  are  dying  for 
want  of  rain,  a  sham-fight  is  arranged  between  the  womenfolk 
of  two  nomad  encampments.  The  opposing  forces  come 
together  in  the  afternoon  at  some  lonely  place,  their  head- 

1  J.   Abbot,   The  Keys  of  P&wer  observed  in  India. 
(London,  1932),  p,  340.  In  this  -work 

the  author  gives  many  more  examples          *  R,  V.  Russell,  Tribes  and  Castes 

of    similar    rain-making    ceremonies  of  the  Central  Provinces,  iii.  106. 


dress  thrown  back  and  girt  round  their  waist.  Here,  unseen 
by  the  men,  they  belabour  one  another  till  the  blood  begins  to 
fall.  And  with  that  they  call  a  truce,  for  the  falling  of  blood 
will  surely  induce  the  falling  of  rain.  In  some  tribes  the  men 
take  matters  into  their  own  hands.  The  men  of  one  encamp- 
ment march  off  to  another  in  the  neighbourhood,  and  there 
make  a  great  noise,  and  are  soused  with  water  for  their  pains. 
Then  they  are  given  alms  and  sent  about  their  business.  Both 
customs  are  on  the  wane  ;  but  it  is  safe  to  prophesy  that  the 
women  will  be  the  last  to  abandon  theirs.  Less  obvious  is  the 
idea  underlying  another  old  rain-making  custom,  now  fast 
degenerating  into  a  game  occasionally  played  by  boys  in  Kalat 
and  other  settled  villages  in  times  of  drought.  One  of  the 
boys  acts  as  the  piraka,  dressed  up  like  a  little  old  man  (for 
this  is  what  the  word  means),  with  a  hoary  beard  of  cotton- 
wool on  his  chin,  a  felt  cap  on  his  head,  a  zor  or  felt  coat  on 
his  back,  and  a  string  of  Gungaru  or  bells  jingling  about  his 
waist.  Round  his  neck  his  comrades  put  a  rope  and  drag 
him  through  the  village.  And  when  they  come  to  a  door, 
they  stand  and  shout  this  Dehwari  doggerel  : 

The  buffoon  /    The  old  mannikin  / 
Down  fell  the  grain-Inn 
On  top  of  poor  granny  ! 

This  is  the  signal  for  the  goodman  of  the  house  to  come  out 
with  an  offering  of  money  or  grain.  And  the  piraka  shakes 
himself  and  makes  his  bells  jingle  and  bellows  like  a  camel, 
while  the  boys  shout  in  chorus  : 

Good  luck  to  the  house  of  the  giver  / 
And  a  hole  in  the  bin  of  the  miser  ! 

And  so  they  move  on  from  house  to  house.  In  the  end  their 
collections  are  clubbed  together,  a  pottage  is  prepared  and 
distributed  among  the  people,  and  the  game  is  closed  with 
prayers  for  rain.  I  suppose  the  piraka' s  bellowing  and  the 
jingling  of  the  bells  are  imitative  of  thunder  and  the  swish  of 
rain,  but  I  can  volunteer  no  explanation  for  his  general  get- 
up,  unless  his  snow-white  is  imitative  of  snow  ;  the  game 
at  any  rate  is  generally  played  in  the  uplands  in  the  late 
autumn."  x 

1  D.  Bray  in  Census  of  India,  1911,  vol.  iv.  Part  i.  pp.  65  iy. 


An  instructive  account  of  the  rain-making  ceremonies 
observed  by  the  Bechuanas  and  other  inhabitants  of  the  arid 
Kalahari  Desert  in  South-west  Africa  runs  as  follows : 
"  Another  of  the  witch-doctor's  functions  was  rain-making. 
There  were  regular  guilds  of  rainmakers.  In  an  arid  country 
like  South  Africa,  and  especially  in  the  Kalahari  region,  rain- 
fall is  the  all-important  subject.  If  it  is  abundant,  the  crops 
will  be  abundant  also,  but  if  it  is  scanty,  as  last  season's  was 
(1921-22),  there  is  sure  to  be  a  shortage  of  food.  Natives  are 
improvident  as  a  rule,  and  were  more  so  in  their  heathen  days 
than  they  are  now,  and  the  old  Bechuanas  were  no  exception 
to  the  rule.  In  times  of  prolonged  drought  man  and  beast 
both  suffer,  and  there  is  a  famine,  with  the  result  that  the 
stock  die,  and  the  natives  are  hard  put  to  survive.  In  the  old 
days  the  chief  was  the  great  rainmaker  of  the  tribe.  He  was 
not  only  the  temporal  but  the  spiritual  head  of  the  tribe,  and 
it  was  his  duty  to  see  that  the  fertilizing  showers  descended 
upon  the  land.  There  is  little  doubt  that  the  chieftainship 
evolved  from  the  priesthood.  The  highest  compliment  that 
the  natives  can  pay  to  the  memory  of  a  departed  chief  is  to 
say  that  he  was  a  great  rainmaker,  and  a  man  who  was  suc- 
cessful in  this  line  was  likely  to  become  not  only  wealthy  but 
powerful,  and  very  likely  eventually  become  chief.  Tradition 
bears  this  supposition  out.  Many  chiefs  would  not  tolerate 
any  rivals,  no  matter  how  successful  they  might  be.  When 
there  was  a  drought  the  chief,  if  he  was  not  the  rainmaker, 
used  to  send  to  the  witch-doctor  by  night,  and  everything 
must  be  done  secretly  if  it  is  to  be  successful.  The  old  Bec- 
huanas would  not  tell  folk-tales  before  sunset  lest  the  clouds 
should  fall  on  them.  The  messenger  must  not  look  behind 
him,  nor  drink  water,  but  when  he  gets  near  the  rainmaker's 
abode  he  must  bathe  in  a  pure  stream,  because  this  will  assist 
the  rain  to  come.  The  rainmaker  uses  his  own  spells  to 
produce  the  rain.  He  must  smear  himself  with  mud  and 
pour  out  libations  of  beer  and  water  to  the  ancestral  spirits  to 
send  therain.  Then  the  chief  must  sacrifice  an  ox  of  a  peculiar 
colour,  for  a  good  deal  depends  on  that.  If  these  ceremonies 
are  not  successful  in  drawing  from  the  sky  the  fertilizing  fluid, 
the  rainmaker  orders  the  chief  and  his  people  to  go  to  the 
mountains  or  hills  with  their  cattle.  They  must  drive  these 



beasts  to  the  highest  points,  and  kill  antelopes  and  monkeys, 
and  throw  stones  into  all  the  holes  and  gorges.  From  any- 
thing they  kill  they  must  remove  the  entrails  and  cast  them 
into  the  streams  and  water-holes,  as  nothing  must  be  brought 
back  with  the  bodies.  Women  must  also  uproot  plants  and 
shrubs  and  cast  them  likewise  into  the  streams  and  water- 
holes.  It  has  already  been  suggested  that  some  of  the  old 
Bechuanas  used  to  offer  human  sacrifices  in  cases  of  extreme 
drought,  but  doubt  was  expressed  as  to  the  reality  of  this.  At 
the  same  time  a  Christian  native  told  me  that  when  he  was  a 
small  child  he  remembered  seeing  some  little  girl  children 
being  buried  up  to  their  necks  in  the  earth,  while  the  mothers 
kept  up  a  terrible  howling  pula>  pula  (rain,  rain)  all  the  time. 
These  children  nearly  died  of  thirst  and  exposure.  He  did 
not  remember  if  there  was  plenty  of  rain  afterwards.  Some- 
times the  contents  of  the  gall  bladder  of  the  black  sheep  or 
goat  was  cut  out  and  drunk  by  the  rain-doctor,  while  he 
anointed  his  body  with  some  of  it  mixed  with  medicines* 
The  idea  was  that  as  it  blackened  his  own  body,  so  it  would 
turn  the  clouds  black  and  cause  them  to  rain."  x 

Among  the  Bavenda,  a  tribe  of  the  Northern  Transvaal, 
there  are  professional  rainmakers  who  resort  to  many  different 
devices  in  order  to  produce  the  desired  and  needed  rainfall. 
For  example  one  rainmaker  powders  up  some  dried  crab  and 
fukwe  bird,  whose  cry  is  regarded  as  the  harbinger  of  rain, 
and  mixes  it  with  some  refuse  disgorged  from  the  river  when 
last  in  flood.     He  puts  some  of  this  mixture  on  to  a  small 
piece  of  broken  pot  over  a  fire  which  he  lights  on  the  veranda 
of  his  hut.    As  soon  as  the  fumes  from  the  potsherd  begin  to 
rise  he  goes  into  his  hut,  shuts  the  door  and  covers  himself  up 
with  blankets.     Before  long  he  begins  to  sweat  and  he  stays 
shut  in  his  hut  all  day,  completely  enveloped  in  his  blankets 
and  sweating  freely.     Towards  evening  a  small  cloud  is  sup- 
posed to  appear  in  the  sky,  drawn  thither  by  the  smoking 
powder,  and  presently  the  clouds  are  said  to  increase  and  rain 
to  fall.    The  idea  is  that  the  powder  goes  up  into  the  sky,  and 
its  constituents,  all  closely  associated  with  water,  there  form 
rainclouds  that  turn  into  drops  and  fall,  induced  by  the  per- 

1  S.  S.  Dornan,  Pygmies  and  Bushmen  of  the  Kalahari  (London,  1925),  pp. 
300  sqq. 

II          THE  MAGICAL  CONTROL  OF  THE  WEATHER        79 

spiration  of  the  man  in  the  hut.  Another  rainmaker  plays  a 
native  horn  and  dances  vigorously  until  he  is  bathed  in  sweat. 
As  the  sweat  drops  from  his  body  so  it  is  believed  that  rain 
will  soon  drop  from  the  clouds.1 

Among  the  Ila-speaking  peoples  of  Northern  Rhodesia 
the  rainmaker  employs  various  charms  based  on  the  principle 
of  homoeopathic  or  imitative  magic.  Thus,  for  example, 
"  taking  a  pot  he  puts  into  it  some  roots  of  the  Mutimbavhula 
tree  and  some  water.  Then  holding  a  small  forked  stick 
between  the  palms  of  his  two  hands  he  twirls  it  round  in  the 
liquid,  producing  froth  (tov&u).  Some  of  this  froth  he  throws 
in  all  directions,  the  idea  being  that  it  will  collect  the  clouds. 
Then  another  kind  of  medicine  is  burnt,  and  throws  up  a 
dense  smoke  which  is  supposed  to  have  some  connection  with 
clouds.  The  ashes  are  put  into  a  pot  of  water,  so  that  the 
water  becomes  very  black — another  reference  to  black  clouds. 
Then  he  once  again  twirls  his  stick  (lupttsho)  in  this  mixture — 
to  gather  the  clouds.  As  the  wind  brings  up  clouds,  so  will 
the  movement  of  his  stick.  All  the  time  this  is  going  on  the 
people  are  singing  and  invoking  the  praise  names  of  Leza. 
One  refrain  is  : 

Tuendele  o  muyoba,  Leza,  kowa  / 

Come  to  us  with  a  continued  rain,  O  Leza,  fall  1 

When  the  operation  is  completed,  the  medicine  is  poured  on 
the  ground,  the  pot  is  covered  and  left  there  by  the  little 
huts."  2  In  this  case  the  ritual  of  homoeopathic  or  imitative 
magic  is  reinforced  by  the  religious  rite  of  a  prayer  addressed 
to  the  supreme  sky-god  Leza,  that  he  may  come  down  to  earth 
in  the  form  of  rain. 

Among  the  Ibo  of  Southern  Nigeria  a  magician  or  doctor 
attempts  to  make  or  stop  rain  by  the  use  of  certain  stones. 
If  he  wishes  to  bring  rain,  he  takes  the  stone  out  near  the 
eaves  of  his  house  and  makes  a  fire  with  grass  and  oil-bean 
wood  ;  as  the  smoke  rises  the  heavens  are  believed  to  grow 
black  with  clouds.  If  he  wishes  to  stop  the  rain  he  waves  a 
broom  towards  the  sky,  takes  the  stone  back  into  the  house, 
and  covers  it  up,  pulls  away  the  first  grass  from  the  fire  and 

1  H.  A.  Stayt,  The  Bavenda  (Lon-       lla- Speaking    Peoples     of    Southern 
don,  1931),  p.  312.  Nigeria^  ii.  208 

«  E.  W.  Smith  and  A.  M.  Dale,  The 


puts  on  another  kind.  Another  method  of  these  I  bo  rain- 
makers is  to  offer  a  long  prayer  to  a  deity  or  spirit  called 
Amade  Awha,  at  the  conclusion  of  which  the  rainmaker 
begins  to  weep.  As  his  tears  fall  to  the  ground,  so  will  the 
raindrops  soon  begin  to  drop  from  the  clouds.  Some  chew 
certain  leaves  and  spit  them  out,  while  others  eject  water  in 
the  direction  in  which  it  is  wanted  to  come,  no  doubt  in 
imitation  of  a  shower.1 

When  the  Berbers  of  North  Africa  desire  to  procure  rain 
they  take  a  large  wooden  ladle  which  is  used  for  drawing 
water,  dress  it  up  as  a  bride,  and  carry  it  about  in  a  proces- 
sion, followed  by  women  and  children.  From  time  to  time 
the  doll  is  sprinkled  with  water,  and  the  procession  collects 
contributions  which  are  used  afterwards  to  defray  the  expense 
of  a  feast  held  either  in  the  bed  of  a  stream,  or  on  a  threshing- 
floor,  or  on  one  of  the  mountain-tops  where  the  ceremonial 
fires  are  kindled  at  the  solstices.  This  ceremony  for  the  pro- 
curing of  rain  is  known  and  practised  throughout  North 
Africa,  from  the  Atlantic  to  the  Cyrenaica.* 

In  times  of  severe  drought  the  Arabs  of  Marsa  Matruh, 
the  classical  Paraetonium  to  the  west  of  Alexandria,  perform  a 
rain-making  ceremony  as  follows :  "  The  owners  of  several 
fields  club  together  and  contribute  each  some  article  of  cloth- 
ing, in  which  a  pole  or  stake  is  dressed  to  represent  a  woman. 
This  wooden  dummy  is  called  Zarafah.  The  Arabs  take 
then  this  Zarafah  and  carry  it  round  their  fields,  shouting  ya 
zarafah  haty  er-rafdak-t.  The  meaning  of  these  words  is 

somewhat  obscure When  the  procession  of  the  Zarafah 

is  ended  the  dummy  is  stripped,  the  clothing  and  finery  restored 
.to  the  lenders,  and  the  wooden  stock  is  thrown  away/'  * 

Primitive  peoples  commonly  believe  that  they  can  stop  as 
well  as  produce  a  fall  of  rain  by  magic.  In  order  to  stop 
rainfall  they  often  resort  to  the  agency  of  fire,  doubtless  with 
the  notion  that  the  heat  of  the  fire  will  dry  up  the  water  of  the 
rain.  Thus  in  Uganda,  when  the  rain  was  very  heavy  and 
the  lightning  severe,  the  Baganda  used  to  make  fires  which 

1  P.   A.    Talbot,    The   Peoples  of  *  Oric  Bates,  •«  Ethnographic  Notes 

Southern  Nigeria,  iii.  964.  from  Marsa  Matruh,"  in  Journal  of 

E.  Laoust,  Mots  et  choses  berfcres,  the  Royal  Asiatic  Society  for   1915, 

P-  204.  pp,  5^  , 

II          THE  MAGICAL  CONTROL  OF  THE  WEATHER        81 

gave  forth  volumes  of  smoke,  to  keep  the  clouds  from  falling  ; 
and  they  beat  drums  to  let  the  god  Gulu  know  where  they 
were,  that  he  might  not  hurt  them  with  lightning.1  The 
Berbers  of  Morocco  similarly  employ  the  agency  of  fire  to  stop 
the  rain.  Thus  at  Tachgagalt  they  think  that  to  extinguish 
a  firebrand  with  rain-water  will  suffice  to  dispel  the  rain  and 
bring  back  fine  weather.  At  Tanant  this  rite  is  performed  by 
a  young  boy,  born  after  the  death  of  his  father  :  he  exposes 
himself  to  the  driving  rain  with  a  firebrand  in  his  hand,  and 
he  returns  to  shelter  when  the  torch  is  extinct.  At  Amanouz 
people  think  that  they  can  arrest  the  fall  of  rain  by  exposing 
to  it  a  boulder  or  pebble  which  they  have  carefully  passed 
over  a  fire.2 

A  similar  mode  of  stopping  the  fall  of  rain  is  practised  in 
Southern  India.  "  When  the  tanks  and  rivers  threaten  to 
breach  their  banks,  men  stand  naked  on  the  bund,  and  beat 
drums  ;  and  if  too  much  rain  falls  naked  men  point  fire- 
brands at  the  sky.  Their  nudity  is  supposed  to  shock  the 
powers  that  bring  the  rain  and  arrest  their  further  progress. 
According  to  Mr.  Francis,  when  too  much  rain  falls,  the  way 
to  stop  it  is  to  send  the  eldest  son  to  stand  in  it  stark  naked, 
with  a  torch  in  his  hand."  3  In  Gujarat,  to  arrest  the  fall  of 
rain,  some  people  ask  naked  boys  to  throw  burning  coals  into 
the  rain  water.4  Sometimes  it  is  prescribed  that  the  burning 
coals  which  are  thrown  into  the  rain-water  must  first  be  passed 
between  the  legs  of  a  person  born  in  the  month  of  Phalgun 
(February-March),5  Among  the  Garos  of  Assam  "  when  rain 
has  been  too  constant  and  sunshine  is  desired,  the  salaksoa 
or  *  burning  of  the  sun '  ceremony  is  observed.  This  ceremony 
is  the  reverse  of  that  for  rain,  for  whereas,  in  the  latter,  water 
is  poured  out  to  bring  rain,  in  the  former  fires  are  lighted 
round  about  rocks  to  bring  warmth  and  sunshine.  In  this, 
as  in  the  rain  ceremony,  a  goat  or  fowl  is  offered  up."6 
Among  the  Palaungs  of  Burma  "  if  too  much  rain  has  fallen, 
and  there  is  no  sign  of  fine  weather,  a  calabash  is  filled  with 

1  J.  Roscoe,  The  Baganda,  p.  315.  *  R.    E.    Enthoven,    Folklore    of 

2  E.  Laoust,  Mots  et  chases  berberes  Gujarat  (Supplement  to  Indian  Anti- 
(Paris,  1920),  p.  250.  fuary,  xliii.,  1914),  p.  17. 

3  E.  Thurston,  Omens  and  Super-  *  R.    E.    Enthoven,    Folklore    of 
stitions  of  Southern  India  (London,  Bombay ',  p.  117. 

1912),  p.  309.  *  A.  Playfair,  The  Garos,  p.  89. 


water  and  corked  with  a  loosely  fitting  piece  of  wood,  wrapped 
round  with  leaves.  It  is  then  suspended  over  a  fire,  with  the 
mouth  downwards.  A  certain  amount  of  water  escapes  and 
trickles  out,  dropping  down  into  the  fire  :  this  is  supposed  to 
stop  the  rain.  Before  hanging  up  the  calabash  an  incantation 
is  said."  *  In  Buin,  one  of  the  Solomon  Islands,  when  people 
wish  to  make  rain  they  throw  the  leaves  of  a  certain  species  of 
tall  palm  into  water,  and  when  they  wish  to  stop  the  fall  of 
rain  they  throw  the  leaves  of  the  same  palm  into  a  fire.2 

Elsewhere  I  have  dealt  with  the  remarkable  belief  of 
some  primitive  peoples  which  associates  twins  with  water  and 
especially  with  rain.3  The  Bavenda  of  the  Northern  Trans- 
vaal think  that  if  twins  are  not  buried  near  water,  the  rain  will 
not  fall.4  Speke  was  told  by  one  of  his  men  that  in  Nguru, 
one  of  the  sister  provinces  to  Unyanyembe,  as  soon  as  twins 
are  born  they  are  killed  and  thrown  into  water,  lest  drought 
and  famine  or  floods  should  oppress  the  land.  Further  he 
was  told  that  in  the  province  of  Unyanyembe,  if  a  twin  or 
twins  die,  for  the  same  reason  they  are  thrown  into  water.5 

The  magician  who  undertakes  to  make  or  stop  rain  often 

seeks,  on  the  principle  of  homoeopathic  magic,  to  assimilate 

himself  to  the  phenomenon  which  he  desires  to  produce.     In 

short,  if  he  wishes  to  make  rain,  he  must  himself  be  wet : 

if  he  wishes  to  make  dry  weather,  he  must  himself  be  dry.6 

Thus  among  the  Gagou,  a  tribe  of  the  Ivory  Coast  in  West 

Africa,  when  a  magician  is  performing  his  ceremony  for 

stopping  the  rain  he  must  not  himself  touch  water  or  drink 

it  or  bathe  in  it ;   on  the  contrary  when  he  is  performing  a 

ceremony  to  cause  rain  he  must  drink  as  much  water  as  he  can, 

and  bathe  in  it  incessantly.7    Among  the  Ekoi  of  Southern 

Nigeria  a  certain  chief  was  said  to  be  able  to  produce  rain  by 

drinking  water  mixed  with  magic  potions  or  to  stop  the 

1  Mrs.  L.  Milne,  The  Home  of  an 
Eastern  Clan,  p.  238. 

a  R.  Thurnwald,  op.  cit.  p.  449. 

8  See  The  Golden  Bough:  The 
Magic  Art  and  the  Evolution  of 
Kings,  i.  262  sqq.  I  there  cited  M. 
Henri  Junod's  work,  Les  Baronga.  I 
may  now  refer  to  his  later  and  fuller 
book,  The  Life  of  a  South  African 
Tribe,  2nd  edit.  (London,  1927),  ii. 


*  H.  A.  Stayt,  The  Bavenda,  p.  310. 

8  J.  H.  Speke,  Journal  of  the  Dis- 
covery of  the  Source  of  the  Nile 
(Everyman  Library),  p.  426. 

•  The  Golden  Bough  :  The  Magic 
Art,  etc.  i.  269  sq. 

7  L.  Tauxier,  Negrts  Gouro  *t 
Gagou  (Paris,  1924),  p.  144. 

II          THE  MAGICAL  CONTROL  OF  THE  WEATHER        83 

downpour  by  abstaining  from  taking  water  for  two  or  three 
days  at  a  time,  but  during  this  period  he  was  not  debarred 
from  drinking  palm  wine.1     Among  the  Bakongo   of   the 
Lower  Congo  on  the  day  when  a  magician  is  about  to  perform 
a  ceremony  for  the  stopping  of  rain  he  may  not  drink  water  nor 
wash  himself.     But  on  the  contrary  when  he  desires  to  produce 
rain  he  takes  certain  leaves  and  puts  them  into  a  stream  and 
then  dives  under  the  water.     When  he  returns  to  the  surface 
the  rain  is  supposed  soon  to  fall.2     Among  the  Boloki,  a 
tribe  of  the  Upper  Congo,  "  when  a  storm  threatens  to  break 
during  the  funeral  festivities  of  a  man  the  people  present 
will  call  the  beloved  child  of  the  deceased  and  giving  him 
(or  her)  a  lighted  ember  from  the  hearth  with  a  vine  twined 
round  it,  will  ask  him  to  stop  the  rain.     The  lad  steps  for- 
ward and  waves  the  vine-encircled  ember  towards  the  horizon 
where  the  storm  is  rising,  and  says,  *  Father,  let  us  have  fine 
weather  during  your  funeral  ceremonies.'     The  son  after 
this  rite  must  not  drink  water — he  may  drink  sugar-cane 
wine — nor  put  his  feet  in  water  for  one  day.     Should  he  not 
observe  these  prohibitions  the  rain  will  fall  at  once.     When 
it  is  desirable  to  have  rain  the  native  takes  down  from  the 
shelf  some  sticks  which  have  '  medicine  '  bound  round  them 
and  plunges  them  into  water  mixed  with  arrowroot  leaves, 
and  then  the  rain  will  soon  begin  to  fall.     It  is  rarely  that 
they  have  to  resort  to  the  rain-doctor  to  bring  rain,  as  the 
rain  falls  with  great  regularity  all  the  year  round."  3    The 
Lesa,  a  tribe  of  the  Belgian  Congo,  possess  a  charm  which  is 
believed  to  prevent  rain  from  falling.     It  consists  of  a  pot 
containing  some  gray  matter  and  the  skeleton  of  a  serpent. 
Whoever  employs  this  charm  to  prevent  rain  from  falling 
must  abstain  from  drinking  water  for  nine  days.     Otherwise 
the  charm  will  be  without  effect.4    The  Suk,  a  tribe  of  Kenya 
in  East  Africa,  endeavour  to  procure  rain  by  plung-ing  a  child 
of  the  Terit  clan  in  a  stream.6 

Among  the  Bare'e-speaking  Toradyas  of  Central  Celebes 

1  P.  A.  Talbot,  In  the  Shadow  of  the  4  N.  Baeyens,  Les  Lesa  (Bruxelles, 

Bush  (London,  1912),  p.  71.  I9J4),  P- 43- 

•  J.  H.  Weeks,  Among  the  Primi-  *  J.  Barton,  Notes  on  the  Suk 

tive  Bakongo,  p.  230.  Tribe  of  Kenia  Colony,"  in  Journal  of 

3  J.  H.  Weeks,  Among  Congo  the  Royal  Anthropological  Institute, 

Cannibals,  p.  281.  H.  (1921)  pp.  84,  90. 


when  the  weather  is  dry  and  you  wish  it  to  remain  so,  you 
must  not  pronounce  the  word  "rain",  or  the  rain  will  think  that 
it  is  called  for  and  will  come.  Hence  in  Pakambia,  where 
thunder-storms  are  very  common,  the  word  rain  may  not  be 
pronounced  throughout  the  year,  and  the  term  *  tree-blossoms  * 
is  substituted  for  it.  Further,  rain  may  not  be  mentioned 
during  harvest-time,  and  a  fire  is  kept  burning  in  the  rice- 
fields  to  prevent  rain  from  falling.  Drought  may  be  con- 
firmed by  abstaining  from  bathing  and  drinking  water.  The 
rain-doctor  (sandd)  who  is  to  drive  away  rain  must  not  come 
into  contact  with  water  ;  he  does  not  bathe  nor  wash  his 
hands  ;  he  drinks  only  palm-wine  ;  and  in  crossing  a  brook 
he  does  not  put  his  feet  in  the  water.  He  builds  a  small 
hut  in  the  rice-field,  and  in  the  hut  he  keeps  a  fire  constantly 
burning.  He  also  keeps  by  him  a  packet  of  leaves  and  bark 
of  certain  trees  and  plants,  which  have  a  power  of  driving 
away  rain  in  virtue  of  their  names.  If  the  rain-doctor  after- 
wards wishes  to  cause  rain,  he  has  only  to  sprinkle  water  on 
his  fire  and  the  rain  pours  down.  To  drive  away  rain,  he 
blows  lime  towards  it.1  Among  the  Bukaua  of  Northern 
New  Guinea,  while  a  rain-maker  is  engaged  in  his  profes- 
sional duties  he  must  rub  his  hair  with  black  earth,  put  black 
spots  on  his  face,  and  bathe  every  morning,  stretching  his  arms 
out  over  the  surface  of  the  sea  and  calling  for  rain.  It  is 
believed  that  the  sky  will  then  darken,  and  the  rain  fall  in 
torrents.2  The  Indians  and  Negroes  of  Guiana  think  that  if 
during  heavy  rain  you  refrain  from  washing  the  inside  of 
your  pots  the  rain  will  stop  ;  or  at  least  to  plunge  the  pots 
into  the  water  would  cause  the  rain  to  redouble,3 

Sometimes  rain-charms  operate  through  the  influence 
or  spirits  of  the  dead.  Thus  among  the  Bare'e-speaking 
Toradyas  of  Central  Celebes,  the  rain-maker  will  sometimes 
sprinkle  water  on  the  grave  of  a  chief,  and  pray  to  the  dead 
man  to  send  rain.  Further  he  will  hang  a  bamboo  full  of 
water  over  the  grave  so  that  the  water  drips  on  it  constantly 
through  a  small  hole  in  the  bamboo*4  Thus  he  combines  the 
religious  ritual  of  prayer  with  a  ceremony  of  homoeopathic 

que  du  Sud  (Paris,  1883),  p.  276. 

T.  ,  ,    .        . 

•  Neuhauss,  op.  cit.  iii.  456.  *  Adriam   and    Kruijt,   op.  £it.  a 

*  J  .  Crevaux,  Voyage  dans  VAw&n-     -259  sq. 


or  imitative  magic,  by  dripping  water  in  imitation  of  rain. 
Among  the  Palaungs  of  Burma  "  freshly  picked  tea  leaves  are 
sometimes  offered  at  the  end  of  the  dry  season  to  the  spirit  of  a 
stream  or  spring,  so  that  plentiful  rains  may  fall  on  the  tea 
gardens.  If  there  has  been  a  long  period  of  drought,  and 
the  tea  gardens  are  greatly  suffering  from  want  of  rain,  cooked 
rice  is  offered  there  to  Ta  Pan  and  Ya  Pan  (*  Grandfather 
Pan  '  and  '  Grandmother  Pan '),  two  spirits,  husband  and  wife, 
who  specially  watch  over  the  gardens.  If  this  offering  fails 
to  bring  rain,  the  Elders  and  other  men  in  the  village  assemble 
on  a  moonlight  night  chosen  by  a  wise  man.  They  take 
charcoal — from  any  fire — grind  it  to  powder,  and  blacken 
their  faces  with  it.  They  do  not  wear  the  hair  knotted  as 
usual  on  the  top  of  the  head,  but  combed  straight  back  over 
the  shoulders.  They  go  to  a  graveyard,  strip  themselves  of 
all  their  garments,  and  streak  their  naked  bodies  with  char- 
coal to  imitate  the  stripes  of  a  tiger.  They  then  crawl  three 
times  round  a  newly-made  grave,  on  their  hands  and  knees, 
scratching  the  ground  and  growling  like  tigers.  After  they 
have  finished  crawling  round  the  grave  they  take  one  of  the 
poles  from  the  bier  on  which  a  coffin  has  been  carried  to  the 
graveyard  (these  biers  are  left  upon  the  grave),  and  they  carry 
the  pole  back  to  the  village.  When  they  arrive  they  ride 
astride  on  the  pole  as  a  child  rides  on  a  stick,  and  in  this  way 
they  go  from  one  end  of  the  village  to  the  other.  When  they 
reach  the  farther  end  they  throw  the  pole  into  the  jungle. 
No  incantation  is  said  with  this  performance.  The  wise 
man  who  described  it  to  me  said  that  he  had  seen  the  whole 
ceremony  more  than  once.  Sometimes  they,  at  first,  simply 
fetch  the  pole  from  a  grave  and  lay  it  in  a  stream  of  water ; 
but  if  this  does  not  bring  the  rain,  the  more  elaborate  per- 
formance takes  place."1  In  this  curious  ceremony  the 
simulation  of  tigers  by  the  rain-makers  at  the  grave  may 
perhaps  be  intended  to  intimidate  the  dead  man,  and  so 
induce  him  to  comply  with  their  wishes  by  sending  the 
needed  rain* 

In  some  parts  of  Southern  India  it  is  believed  that  if  the 
bodies  of  lepers  are  buried  rain  may  not  fall.  Hence  in  cases 
of  prolonged  drought  the  corpses  of  such  persons  are  some- 

1  Mrs.  Leslie  Milne,  The  Home  of  an  Eastern  Clan,  pp.  237  sg. 


times  disinterred  and  thrown  into  a  river  or  burned.  "  Some 
years  ago  a  man  who  was  supposed  to  be  a  leper  died,  and 
was  buried.  His  skeleton  was  disinterred,  put  into  a  basket, 
and  hung  to  a  tree  with  a  garland  of  flowers  round  its  neck. 
The  Superintendent  of  Police,  coming  across  it,  ordered  it  to 
be  disposed  of."1 

Speaking  of  Persia,  an  Arab  traveller  of  the  tenth  century, 
Ebn  Haukal,  says,  "  In  the  city  of  Sus  (Susa)  there  is  a  river, 
and  I  have  heard  that,  in  the  time  of  Abou  Mousa  Ashoari  a 
coffin  was  found  there  :  and  the  bones  of  Daniel  the  Prophet 
(to  whom  be  peace !)  were  in  that  coffin.  These  the  people  held 
in  great  veneration  and  in  time  of  distress  or  famine  from 
droughts  they  brought  them  out  and  prayed  for  rain/'2  An- 
other mediaeval  Arab  geographer  has  recorded  that  a  certain 
prince,  named  Selman,  who  had  been  slain  in  battle  with  the 
Khazars,  was  placed  in  a  coffin  and  deposited  in  their  temple 
by  the  victorious  Khazars.  And  afterwards  in  times  of 
drought  they  used  to  bring  forth  the  coffin  and  thus  procure 
rain  for  their  fields.  In  reference  to  this  custom  an  Arab 
poet  of  Selman's  tribe  affirmed  that  the  merits  of  Selman 
41  obtain  for  the  country  a  plentiful  rain/'3 

Among  the  Bavenda,  a  tribe  of  the  Northern  Transvaal, 
prolonged  drought  is  often  ascribed  to  the  anger  of  an  ances- 
tral spirit.  When  the  identity  of  the  offended  spirit  has  been 
ascertained,  all  the  people  are  summoned  to  do  the  sacred 
tshikona  dance,  either  in  a  village  within  hearing  distance  of 
the  grave,  or  in  the  forest  near  the  grave.  Meanwhile  the 
chief,  attended  by  his  relatives,  visits  the  grave  and  there 
performs  a  certain  ceremony  called  Phasi  madi^  after  which 
he  deposits  upon  it  the  contents  of  the  stomach  of  an  ox.  He 
beseeches  the  spirit  to  withdraw  his  anger  and  not  to  let  the 
earth  get  hot  and  his  descendants  starve  for  want  of  water.4 
Near  Timgad  in  Algeria,  in  a  time  of  drought,  a  modern 
traveller  found  the  Mohammedan  peasants  breaking  into 
the  grave  of  a  holy  man  in  order  to  pour  water  over  his 
bones  as  a  charm  to  procure  rain.  He  was  informed  by  a 

1  E.  Thurston,  Omens  and  Super-  (London,  1 800),  p.  76. 

stitions  of  Southern  India,  p.  310.  »  C.  B.  de  Meynard,  Dictionnaire 

1  The  Oriental  Geography  of  Ebn  de  la  Perse  (Paris,  1861),  p.  72. 

Haukal,  translated  by  Sir  W.  Ouseley  <  H.  A.  Stayt,  The  Bavenda,  p.  310. 

il          THE  MAGICAL  CONTROL  OF  THE  WEATHER        87 

native  that  this  mode  of  procuring  rain  in  times  of  drought 
was  often  practised  in  the  neighbourhood.1 

Again,  animals  of  various  species  are  often  employed  in 
charms  to  make  or  stop  rain.2  Often  it  is  prescribed  that 
animals  employed  for  this  purpose  must  be  black,  doubtless 
with  reference  to  the  blackness  of  rainclouds.  Thus  among 
the  Bagesu,  a  cannibal  tribe  inhabiting  the  slopes  of  the  lofty 
Mount  Elgon,  in  cases  of  prolonged  drought  "  the  rain-maker 
may  consent  to  take  the  extreme  measure  of  climbing  the 
mountain  and  paying  a  visit  to  the  deity  on  the  top,  a  step 
which  he  asserts  is  fraught  with  danger  and  may  cost  him  his 
life.  A  black  ox  is  brought,  and  a  quantity  of  beer,  which 
are  taken  up  the  mountain  by  several  village  elders  who 
accompany  the  rain-maker  to  a  plateau  near  the  mountain 
top.  Here  the  ox  is  killed  and  eaten  by  the  company,  with 
the  exception  of  one  leg,  at  a  sacred  meal  at  which  the  blood 
is  offered  to  the  god.  The  leg  is  carried  up  the  mountain  to 
a  priest  who  lives  near  a  large  pool  in  which  is  said  to  be  a 
large  snake  which  is  the  god.  This  pool  is  the  spring  which 
supplies  many  waterfalls  upon  the  mountain.  The  priest 
takes  the  meat  and  hears  the  request  of  the  rain-maker.  The 
priest  and  rain-maker  now  make  a  trough  of  clay  near  the 
pool  and  pour  the  beer  into  it.  The  priest  then  stands  near 
the  trough  and  puts  a  long  beer-tube  into  the  spring  in  order 
to  suck  a  little  water  through  it.  The  snake  resents  this,  for 
it  guards  the  spring  against  any  person  drawing  water  from 
the  pool.  It  is  said  to  capture  any  man  who  rashly  attempts 
to  do  so.  When,  therefore,  the  priest  attempts  to  draw  water, 
the  snake  darts  forth  and  winds  its  deadly  coils  around  him, 
but  the  odour  of  the  beer  saves  him,  for  the  reptile  smells  it, 
hastily  uncoils  itself,  drinks  the  beer  and  is  soon  helplessly 
drunk.  As  soon  as  the  men  see  it  is  helpless  they  break  its 
fangs  and  proceed  rapidly  to  fill  a  number  of  water-pots 
from  the  sacred  spring,  arranging  them  round  the  pool. 
The  water  thus  drawn  and  set  on  the  top  of  the  mountain  will 
without  fail  bring  rain  which  will  continue  to  fall  daily  until 
the  priest  takes  steps  to  stop  it  by  emptying  the  pots  again. 

1  A.  Wiedemann,  in  Arch-to  f£r  *  Cf.  The  Golden  Bough:  The 
Religionswi$senschaft>  vol.  14  (191 1),  Mag*  Art  and  the  Evolution  of 
p.  640.  Kings,  i.  287  sqq. 


The  rain-maker  descends  the  mountain  with  the  elders  who 
have  waited  for  him  on  the  upper  plateau  and  in  a  short 
time  rain  begins  to  pour  down.  The  rain-maker  now  waits, 
knowing  that  the  people  will  soon  come  with  offerings  and 
requests  to  have  the  rain  stopped.  When  the  people  have  had 
enough  rain  and  see  that  their  crops  will  spoil  for  want  of 
sunshine,  they  go  in  a  body  to  the  rain-maker  to  beg  for  sun- 
shine. The  rain-maker  has  now  to  make  a  second  visit  to 
the  serpent-god  with  an  offering  of  beer,  and  has  to  go  with 
the  priest  through  a  similar  performance  to  that  above 
described  in  order  to  make  the  god  drunk,  after  which  he 
empties  the  pots  and  turns  them  bottom  upwards  to  ensure 
sunshine.  Thus  the  harvest  is  assured,  the  seasons  are 
readjusted,  and  the  year  proceeds  in  its  proper  course.*'1 

Among  the  Basoga  of  the  Central  District  in  Uganda, 

11  there  are  very  special  ceremonies  for  rain-making.     The 

chief  of  the  district  is  responsible  for  the  weather.     He  is 

believed  to  have  power  to  send  either  rain  or  sunshine  at  will ; 

he  can  give  or  withhold  as  he  pleases.     Hence,  when  there 

is  a  prolonged  drought  and  the  crops  are  suffering,  the  people 

go  in  a  body  and  beg  rain  from  him,  asking  him  to  use  his 

influence  to  make  the  rain  fall.     Should  it  come  in  a  few  days, 

they  are  happy ;  but,  should  it  still  delay  they  reassemble  and 

abuse  the  chief  roundly  for  his  callous  behaviour,  and  demand 

that  he  shall  exert  himself  and  cease  to  be  so  idle*     This 

generally  has  the  effect  of  rousing  the  chief,  who  makes  an 

effort  to  obtain  the  needed  rain.     He  calls  together  the  leading 

medicine-men  of  the  district  and  commands  them  to  bring 

the  herbs  needed  for  the  great  ceremony  of  rain-making. 

Three  black  animals  are  brought,  a  black  cow,  goat,  and  fowl ; 

these  are  killed,  and  their  blood  is  caught  in  vessels.     Fires 

are  lighted  in  an  open  space  near  the  chiefs  house  and  large 

pots  are  placed  on  them  containing  the  blood  of  the  animals, 

mixed  with  water  and  herbs,  which  is  boiled  until  only  a  thick 

substance  remains.    As  the  steam  rises,  prayers  are  offered 

to  the  god  of  rain.    The  meat  of  these  animals  is  eaten  by 

the  chief  and  the  medicine-men.    The  medicine-men  mix 

the  blood  and  the  herbs  from  the  pots  into  two  balls,  one  for 

the  house  of  the  chief  and  the  other  for  the  house  of  the 

1  J.  Roscoe,  The  Nonhern  Bantu,  pp.  183  sq% 


principal  medicine-man.  Each  ball  has  a  stick  in  it,  and  a 
medicine-man  carries  them  and  places  one  on  each  house. 
Each  day  these  balls  are  taken  and  smeared  with  some  of  the 
fat  taken  from  the  animals  sacrificed,  until  the  rain  comes. 
When  rain  comes  and  food  is  obtained,  the  people  take  pots 
of  beer  to  the  chief  as  a  thank-offering,  and  a  black  ox  to  the 
medicine-man,  in  order  that  he  may  have  fat  for  his  fetishes."1 
Among  the  Kikuyu,  a  tribe  of  Kenya,  when  the  elders  go 
to  the  sacred  fig-tree  to  procure  rain  "they  sacrifice  a  ram, 
preferably  a  black  one.  If,  on  the  other  hand,  they  pray  for 
rain  to  cease,  the  sacrificial  ram  is  preferably  a  white  one, 
though  a  red  one  may  be  used.  After  the  sacrifice,  the  intes- 
tines are  taken  and  tied  round  the  stem  high  up  in  the  tree. 
The  melted  tail  fat  is  then  poured  at  the  foot  of  the  tree  and  a 
strip  of  the  meat  and  fat  are  hung  on  a  branch."2  Among 
the  Akamba,  another  tribe  of  Kenya,  "  a  black  goat  should  be 
sacrificed  for  rain  ;  a  red  one  is,  however,  occasionally  used 
But  whatever  the  colour  of  the  animal  sacrificed,  it  is  very 
important  that  it  should  be  entirely  of  one  colour,  and  not 
spotted  or  parti-coloured.  A  parti-coloured  animal  would 
probably  be  considered  as  having  some  blemish.1'3 

Among  the  Wagogo  of  Tanganyika  when  a  rain-maker 
fails  to  produce  rain  by  his  ordinary  methods  he  sacrifices  a 
black  ox,  cuts  up  the  hide  into  strips,  and  ties  them  about 
the  arms  of  the  people,  as  a  mode  of  hastening  the  tardy 

Among  the  Berbers  of  Morocco  a  very  common  ceremony 
for  procuring  rain  is  to  lead  a  black. cow  round  a  village,  an 
encampment,  a  mosque,  or  a  chapel.  It  is  especially  prac- 
tised by  the  pastoral  tribes  and  nomads  of  the  Middle  Atlas. 
Among  the  Ait  Immour  young  girls  lead  a  black  cow  round 
the  sanctuary  of  some  holy  man,  singing  the  while.  They 
then  return  to  the  mosque,  where  their  procession  disperses. 
Among  the  Ait  Bou  Zemmour  an  aged  woman  leads  the  animal 
by  the  ear  three  times  round  the  little  tent  set  up  in  the  middle 
of  the  camp,  which  serves  at  once  for  the  school  and  the 

1  J.  Roscoe,  op.  cit.  pp.  254  sq.  4  H.  Claus,  Die  Wagogi  'Baessier 

*  C.  W.  Hobley,  Bantu  Beliefs  and  Archiv,     Bciheft    II,,    Leipzig    and 
Magic  (London,  1922),  p.  60.  Berlin,  1911),  p.  42- 

*  /<£,  foe.  cit» 


mosque.  The  other  women  follow  her.  Among  the  Zem- 
mout  the  custom  is  first  of  all  to  overturn  the  tent  which 
serves  as  a  mosque,  then  to  lead  the  cow  round  the  camp. 
The  women  remaining  in  their  tents  sprinkle  with  water  the 
cow  and  the  women  who  lead  it.  For  this  ceremony  they 
generally  choose  a  black  cow,  because  black  is  the  colour  of  the 
clouds  that  discharge  rain.1  In  order  to  stop  rain  the  women 
of  Aith  Ndhir  take  a  dog  and  lead  it  round  the  encampment 
by  a  string  which  is  wound  round  the  body  of  the  woman,  and 
as  they  lead  it  they  say,  "  Come,  come,  dog,  thy  mistress  is 
overwhelmed  by  distress."  Other  Berbers  employ  a  cat  in 
ceremonies  to  stop  rain,  on  account  of  the  well-known  aversion 
of  cats  to  water.  Thus  at  Tachgagalt  an  old  woman  attaches 
two  black  cats  to  her  spindle,  and  with  the  cats  as  a  team  she 
ploughs  the  dunghill  outside  of  her  house.  At  Aith  Sadden, 
when  the  rain  falls  too  abundantly,  a  woman  will  tie  up  a 
cat  and  give  it  a  sound  beating,  while  she  says,  "  Cat,  cat, 
the  rain  will  never  fall.1'2  Many  other  ceremonies  observed 
by  the  Berbers  for  the  procuring  of  rain  by  means  of  black 
cows  are  described  by  E.  Westermarck.  In  these  cere- 
monies, if  the  cow  should  urinate  it  is  accepted  as  a  sure  sign 
that  rain  will  fall  soon.  (See  his  volume,  Ritual  and  Belief 
in  Morocco  (London,  1926,  vol.  ii.  pp.  264  sqq^.  In  long- 
continued  drought  the  Looboos  of  Sumatra  try  to  make  rain 
by  bathing  a  cat.8 

Again,  frogs  are  often  associated  with  rain-charms,  in 
virtue,  apparently,  of  their  relation  to  water.  Thus,  for 
example,  among  the  Bhatra,  a  primitive  tribe  of  the  Bastar 
State  in  the  Central  Provinces  of  India,  when  it  is  desired  to 
bring  on  rain  they  perform  a  frog  marriage,  tying  two  frogs 
to  a  pestle  and  pouring  oil  and  turmeric  over  them  as  in  a  real 
marriage.  The  children  carry  them  round  begging  from  door 
to  door,  and  finally  deposit  them  in  water.4  Similarly,  among 
the  Gonds, the  principal  Dravidian  tribe  of  India,  "when  there 
is  drought  two  boys  put  up  a  pestle  across  their  shoulders,  tie 
a  living  frog  to  it  with  a  rag,  and  go  from  house  to  house 

1  E.   Laoust,  Mots  et  choses  ber-      Taal-,   Land-    en    Volkenkunde   van 
tores >  p  245.  Nederlandsch* IndiS,  Ixvi.   (1912)   p. 

a  E.  Laoust,  op.  tit.  p.  252.  327. 

J  J;  -,]Fie?1?'    "rP*    Loeboes    *          *  R.  V.  Russell,  Tribes  and  Castes 
Mandailmg,"    in    Bijdragen    tot    do      of  the  Central  Provinces,  ii.  275. 

II          THE  MAGICAL  CONTROL  OF  THE  WEATHER        91 
accompanied  by  other  boys  and  girls  singing, 

Brother  Frog,  give  rain, 
Let  the  rice  and  kodon  ripen, 
Let  my  marriage  be  held. 

The  frog  is  considered  to  be  able  to  produce  rain  because  it 
lives  in  water  and  therefore  has  control  over  its  element.     The 
boy's  point  in  asking  the  frog  to  let  his  marriage  be  held  is 
that  if  the  rain  failed  and  the  crops  withered,  his  parents  would 
be  unable  to  afford  the  expense."1     So  in  Southern  India,  to 
bring  about  rain,  "  Malas,  the  Telugu  Pariahs,  tie  a  live  frog 
to  a  mortar,  and  put  on  the  top  thereof  a  mud  figure  represent- 
ing the  deity  Gontiyalamma.     They  then  take  these  objects 
in  procession,  singing  '  Mother  frog,  playing  in  water,  pour 
rain  by  potsfull,'     The  villagers  of  other  castes  then  come 
and  pour  water  over  the  Malas.     The  Rev.  S.  Nicholson 
informs  me  that,  to  produce  rain  in  the  Telugu  country,  two 
boys  capture  a  frog,  and  put  it  in  a  basket  with  some  nim 
(margosa,  Melia  Azadirachta)  leaves.     They  tie  the  basket 
to  the  middle  of  a  stick,  which  they  support  on  their  shoulders. 
In  this  manner  they  make  a  circuit  of  the  village,  visiting  every 
house,  singing  the  praises  of  the  god  of  rain.     The  greater 
the  noise  the  captive  animal  makes  the  better  the  omen,  and 
the  more  gain  for  the  boys,  for  at  every  house  they  receive 
something  in  recognition  of  their  endeavours  to  bring  rain 
upon  the  village  fields.'52 

A  Chinese  charm  to  produce  rain  when  it  is  wanted  in 
spring,  summer,  or  autumn,  is  as  follows.  They  pierce  a  hole 
in  the  altar  of  the  god  of  the  soil,  and  connect  the  hole  with 
the  water  channel  at  the  back  of  the  village.  By  thus  moisten- 
ing the  god  of  the  soil  they  hope  to  incite  him  to  produce  a 
plentiful  supply  of  the  water  which  the  ground  sorely  needs. 
Further,  they  arrange  five  frogs  at  haphazard  on  the  altar  of 
the  god  of  the  soil.  By  their  croaking  the  frogs  are  thought 
to  call  for  rain,  and  so  to  stimulate  the  god  to  produce  the 
needed  downpour.3 

Scattered  about  in  the  Caucasus  are  a  number  of  com- 
munities of  Mountain  Jews,  who  differ  essentially  from 

1  R.  V.  Russell,  op.  dt.  iii.  106.  305  sq. 

*  E.  Thurston,  Omens  and  Super-          8  E.    Chavannes,    L*    T*ai   Chan 
stitions     of     Southern     India,    pp.      (Paris,  19-10),  pp.  495  sq. 


European  Jews  in  language,  religion,  and  custom.  These 
Jews  are  zealous  adherents  of  the  Talmud,  In  time  of 
drought  the  whole  village  assembles  in  the  churchyard,  fasts 
the  whole  day,  and  prays  to  the  god  to  send  rain,  while  the 
children  march  round  the  churchyard  several  times  and  call 
upon  Semirei,  the  god  of  rain.  Meanwhile  some  women 
have  caught  frogs  and  clad  them  in  little  coats.  That  is  a 
pious  deed,  and  the  frogs,  who  cannot  live  without  water, 
join  their  supplication  for  rain  with  the  prayers  of  the 

The  Basoga  of  Uganda  in  Central  Africa  have,  or  rather 
formerly  had,  a  remarkable  way  of  producing  rain  by  the 
sacrifice  of  a  human  victim.     The  custom  has  of  course  been 
abolished  under  English  rule  ;   but  it  may  be  worth  while  to 
record  it  here,  though  it  savours  more  of  religion  than  of 
magic.     The  custom  has  been  described  by  Canon  Roscoe  as 
follows :    "  Another  way  of  obtaining  rain  is  by  offering  a 
human  sacrifice  to  the  god  Kahango.     This  god  is  said  to  live 
in  a  deep  hole  in  a  part  of  the  country  known  as  The  Pit  of 
Kahango,  where  a  priest  dwells.     A  man  is  chosen  by  divina- 
tion, and  is  carried  to  the  place  of  sacrifice.     The  victim  is 
usually  a  cripple.     He  is  laid  near  the  edge  of  the  pit  on  a  bed 
of  wild  gourd  creepers.    The  bearers  are  from  a  special  clan 
who  have  this  duty  to  perform.     They  also  take  with  them  an 
offering  of  a  goat  for  a  sacrifice  and  to  supply  the  sacred  meal 
with  meat.    As  the  victim  is  laid  by  the  pit,  the  people  say, 
'  You,  Kahango,  if  it  is  you  who  are  keeping  off  the  rain, 
accept  this  sacrifice  and  let  the  rain  come.     If  it  is  not  you, 
then  give  this  man  strength  to  get  up  and  walk  back  to  us/ 
The  people  retire  some  distance  away,  and  after  a  reasonable 
time  has  been  given  and  the  man  has  not  come,  they  look  to 
see  whether  he  has  been  drawn  into  the  pit  or  not.     Should  he 
be  missing,  they  kill  an  ox  and  eat  a  meal  near  the  pit.     The 
people  say  that  it  is  seldom  a  man  returns  :   he  usually  falls 
into  the  pit.     The  rain,  they  assert,  invariably  comes  after 
such  an  offering.    When  the  first-fruits  are  ready,  some  are 
taken  to  the  god  and  presented  to  the  priest,  and  afterwards 
the  food  may  be  consumed  by  all  the  clans  concerned/'2 

1  C.    Hahn,   Aus   dem    Kaukasus          *  J.  Roscoe,  Tke  Northern  Bantu, 
(Leipzig,  1892),  pp.  194  sq.  p.  255. 


A  much  more  innocent  way  of  inducing  or  compelling  the 
powers  of  Nature  to  produce  rain  is  sometimes  practised  by 
the  Looboos,  a  primitive  people  of  Sumatra.  They  plant  a 
banana  stem  in  a  stream.  By  thus  imposing  an  obstacle  to 
the  flow  of  the  current,  they  think  that  the  stream  will  soon 
produce  rain  enough  to  swell  its  flow  and  so  sweep  away  the 

Chinese  annals  record  that  in  the  autumn  of  the  year 
669  B.C.  there  was  a  great  excess  of  rain,  and  that  to  arrest  it 
the  people  sacrificed  a  human  victim  near  the  altar  of  the  god 
of  the  soil.2  "  Nearly  every  year  petitions  are  incessantly  put 
up  to  the  rain-god  to  exert  his  powers  on  the  parched  earth, 
which  cannot  be  planted  until  there  is  a  rainfall.  After 
prayers  have  been  long  continued  with  no  result,  it  is  common 
for  the  villagers  to  administer  a  little  wholesome  correction 
by  dragging  the  image  of  the  god  of  war  out  of  his  temple  and 
setting  him  down  in  the  hottest  place  to  be  found,  that  he  may 
know  what  the  condition  of  the  atmosphere  really  is  at  first 
hand,  and  not  by  hearsay  only.1'3  A  less  drastic  method  of 
dealing  with  the  image  of  the  god  Shiva  in  India  is  to  drench 
the  image  with  water  for  the  purpose  of  procuring  rain  in 
time  of  drought.  For  the  same  purpose,  naked  boys  carry  a 
characteristic  emblem  of  the  god  from  door  to  door  and  are 
drenched  with  water  by  the  inmates.  This  is  supposed  to 
bring  about  the  needed  fall  of  rain.4 

Primitive  man  also  believes  that  by  his  magic  he  can  con- 
trol the  sun,  causing  the  luminary  in  case  of  need  to  shine  and 
hastening  or  delaying  its  going-down.5  Thus  when  the 
weather  has  been  unusually  cold  the  Arunta  of  Central 
Australia  will  sometimes  construct  upon  a  selected  ceremonial 
ground  a  large  coloured  design  representing  the  sun.  Radiat- 
ing from  a  point  upon  a  clear  space,  many  lines  are  drawn 
with,  red  and  white  vegetable  down  to  represent  the  rays  of 
the  sun  ;  and  these  are  intersected  at  different  distances  from 
the  central  point  by  a  number  of  concentric  circles  which 

1  J.  Kreemer,  op,  fit.  p.  327.  Bombay,  pp,  317  j£.;   id.,  Folklore  of 

2  E.  Chavannes,  op.  cit.  p.  491.  Konkan  (Supplement  to  Indian  Anti- 
8  A.  H.  Smith,  Chinese  Character*  guary,  xliii,  1914),  P-  *?• 

(Edinburgh  and  London,  1900),          •  Cf.    The    Golden   Bought     Th* 

p.  305.  Magic  Art,  etc.,  i.  31  1  sqg. 
*  R.  E.  Enthoven,  The  Folklore  of 



represent  the  fathers  of  the  tribe.     The  centre  of  the  design  is 
occupied  by  a  stick  which  is  supposed  to  incorporate  some 
mystical  and  sun-creature  known  as  Knaninja  Arrerreka?- 
By  the  construction  of  this  effigy  of  the  sun  the  Arunta  no 
doubt  hope  to  increase  the  solar  heat,  and  so  to  put  an  end  to 
the  cold  weather.     In  San  Cristoval,  one  of  the  Solomon 
Islands,  it  is  said  that  "  a  famous  ancestor  of  the  Mwara  clan, 
belated  on  his  journey,  took  the  leaf  of  a  tea^  a  palm  with  red 
fruit,  and  caught  the  sun  in  a  noose,  and  now  not  only  Mwara 
clan  men  but  others  may  do  the  same  (may  keep  the  sun  from 
setting)  by  tying  a  knot  with  a  tea  leaf  round  a  tree  by  the 
roadside.      One  may  see  many  such   along  the  roads. 1>a 
The  Kai  of  Northern  New  Guinea  think  that  they  can  hasten 
the  setting  of  the  sun  by  throwing  charmed  stones  at  the 
luminary,  and  that  they  can  delay  its  setting  by  binding  it 
with  grass  knots  upon  which  they  have  whispered  the  name 
of  sun.     In  the  magic  of  the  hunt  they  call  to  the  sun  to  send 
his  rays  through  the  thick  covert  of  the  tropical  forest  so  that 
the  hunter  may  have  light  whereby  to  see  his  prey.8     In  the 
Loyalty  Islands  there  used  to  be  magicians  whose  special 
business  it  was  to  control  the  sun,  but  they  were  not  very 
popular  because  the  natives  suffered  much  from  the  excessive 
heat  of  the  sun,  and  were  apt  to  lay  the  blame  for  their  suffer- 
ings at  the  door  of  the  solar  magicians.     They  even  insinuated 
sometimes  that  one  such  magician  was  trying  to  cause  a 
famine  in  the  land,  so  that  many  people  would  die  of  hunger 
and  thus  there  would  be  more  human  flesh  for  food.     It  was 
one  of  the  prerogatives  of  this  functionary  to  proclaim  a 
cannibal  feast  whenever  he  wished  to  do  so.     He  had,  how- 
ever, to  observe  certain  rules  and  conditions  which  might  be 
supposed  to  militate  against  the  too  frequent  repetition  of  such 
orgies.     Thus,  for  example,  he  would  be  obliged  to  sacrifice 
his  own  eldest  son.     This,  the  first  victim,  he  would  be  obliged 
to  have  cut  into  a  number  of  parts,  corresponding  to  the 
number  of  districts  in  his  chiefs  dominion.     Each  portion 
would  then  be  despatched  by  a  special  envoy  accompanied  by 
the  following  message  :  '  This  is  part  of  the  body  of  my  own 

1  H.    Basedow,    The    Australian      Pacific,  p.  263. 
Aboriginal,  p.  265. 

1  C.  E.  Fox,  The  Threshold  of  the          *  Neuhauss,  op.  cit.  in.  159. 

II          THE  MAGICAL  CONTROL  OF  THE  WEATHER        95 

son.*     It  was  then  held  that  the  people  were  free  to  slay  and 
eat  each  other.1 

In  Yap,  one  of  the  Micronesian  Islands  of  the  Pacific,  there 
was  a  magician  who  professed  to  direct  the  motions  of  the  sun 
by  pointing  the  ray  of  a  sword-fish  at  it.  It  was  believed  that 
in  this  way  he  could  bring  the  sun  down  from  heaven  to  earth, 
or  cause  the  sun  to  deviate  from  his  path  to  the  north,  south, 
east,  or  west  by  pointing  with  the  ray  to  the  direction  in  which 
he  wished  the  sun  to  go.  He  performed  any  of  these  feats  at 
the  bidding  of  the  chiefs.2 

But  the  sun  is  not  the  only  heavenly  body  which  puny  man 
attempts  to  coerce  by  his  magic.  At  an  eclipse  of  the  moon 
the  North  Andaman  Islanders  attempt  to  frighten  the  lumi- 
nary into  showing  her  bright  face  again  by  lighting  the  end 
of  a  bamboo  arrow-shaft  and  shooting  it  in  a  bow  in  the  direc- 
tion of  the  moon.  Or  they  take  plumes  of  shredded  Tetrathera 
wood  and  blow  them  towards  the  moon.3 

Once  more  primitive  man  seeks  to  control  the  wind  by  his 
magic  so  that  it  may  blow  or  be  still  at  his  bidding.  Among 
the  Baganda  of  Central  Africa  when  a  new  king  was  crowned 
he  sent  to  his  paternal  grandmother's  clan  for  a  new  fetish, 
Nantaba.  The  grandmother's  relatives  prepared  a  gourd 
for  the  ceremony  and  also  selected  a  tree  of  a  special  sort  for 
the  fetish.  When  all  was  ready,  four  men  were  sent  to  the 
place  with  a  present  of  cowry-shells  and  a  white  goat  from  the 
king.  Bark  cloths  were  spread  round  the  tree  to  catch  the 
chips  as  it  was  cut  down  ;  as  soon  as  it  was  felled,  the  king's 
grandmother  hurried  forward  with  the  gourd,  and,  stooping 
down  at  the  stump,  held  the  gourd  on  it,  with  its  mouth  to- 
wards the  quarter  from  which  the  wind  came,  so  that  the  wind 
blew  into  it,  making  a  mournful  sound.  She  then  placed 
some  of  the  leaves  of  the  tree  in  the  neck  of  the  gourd,  and 
quickly  covered  it,  while  all  the  people  shouted  for  joy  that 
the  wind  had  been  captured.  The  gourd  was  stitched  in  a 
piece  of  goat-skin,  and  decorated  with  cowry-shells  and  beads, 
and  called  Nantaba.  Thus  adorned,  the  gourd  was  handed 

.,  Among  the  Natives  of  Bewohner   von  Jap,"  in  Anthropos 

the  Loyalty  Group   (London,    1920),  viii.  (19*3)  P-  1053. 

P'»  P,'  S.  Walleser,  "Religiose  An-  *  A.    R.    Brown,    The    Andaman 

schauungeu     und     Gebrauche     der  Islanders  (London,  1922)  p.  144. 


to  one  of  the  four  messengers,  who  wrapped  a  bark-cloth 
round  it  and  bound  it  to  his  person.     He  then  carried  it  to 
the  king,  walking  very  slowly  like  a  pregnant  woman  near 
the  time  of  her  delivery,   and  rested   constantly.     Indeed 
he  was  not  allowed  to  walk  more  than  two  miles  a  day 
and  was  cared  for  like  a  delicate  woman.     On  their  return 
journey  the  messengers  were  not  allowed  to  look  on  blood, 
and  any  meat  which  they  ate  was  dried  in  the  sun  before 
it  was  cooked.     When  they  arrived  at  the  palace,  a  temple 
was   built  for   the   gourd,    and   one   of  the    king's   wives, 
Kabeja,  was  appointed  caretaker  of  it.     The   gourd  with 
the  captured  wind  in  it  was  thought  to  be  a  goddess  en- 
dowed with  powers  of  fecundity.     Whenever  the  wind  blew 
strongly,  drums  were  beaten  in  the  enclosure  of  the  temple, 
to  draw  off  the  attention  of  the  imprisoned  wind-spirit,  and 
prevent  it  from  escaping.     Offerings  of  beer  were  made,  and 
requests  for  children  were  addressed  to  the  spirit.     During 
the  king's  life-time  the  fetish  was  honoured  at  Court,  but 
when  he  died  it  was  discarded,  and  the  new  king  sent  for  a 
new  fetish,1 

When  the  natives  of  Loango  are  serving  as  sailors 
on  European  vessels ,  and  are  overtaken  by  a  great  calm, 
if  they  wish  to  raise  the  wind  they  stroke  the  mast  and 
rigging  with  their  fingers,  and  whistle.  They  also  shout 
lustily,  clicking  their  tongues  against  the  roof  of  their 
mouths,  and  crying,  <c  Come,  wind,  come,*'  They  also 
invoke  a  fetish  called  Tiaba,  which  is  specially  made  for 
overseas  trade,  saying,  "  Bring  wind,  Tiaba,  bring  good 

When  the  Berbers  of  Morocco  are  about  to  winnow  a  heap 
of  grain  they  plant  a  flag  in  the  middle  of  the  heap,  because 
they  think  that  the  fluttering  of  the  flag  will  raise  a  wind 
favourable  to  the  operation  of  winnowing.  The  wind  which 
they  most  desire  to  raise  is  the  west  wind,  because  it  brings 
up  clouds  and  rain.  In  the  Ida  Gounidif,  if  there  is  a  dead 
calm  when  the  winnowing  is  about  to  take  place,  the  farmer 
informs  his  wife,  who  thereupon  sweeps  the  ground  about  her 
mill  with  tufts  of  wool  preserved  for  the  purpose.  After 

1  J.    Roscoe,    The    Baganda,    pp.          *  JDu   Loanga   Expedition^   in.   a, 
32S  ty.  p.  336. 


plunging  the  tufts  in  water  she  fastens  them  to  a  wand  of  a 
carob  tree,  which  she  sticks  in  the  heap  of  grain  which  is  to  be 
winnowed.     By  this  ceremony  she  intends  to  bring  up  both 
wind  and  rain.1     The  Berbers  think  that  any  light  object 
suspended  in  the  air  in  swaying  about  with  every  breeze 
possesses  the  magic  power  of  calling  up  the  wind.     Hence 
they  will  sometimes  take  the  dried  dung  of  an  ass  or  a  mule 
and  hang  it  by  a  thread  to  the  central  pole  of  the  mill,  or  to  a 
stick  inserted  in  the  outside  of  the  mill,  and  pointing  towards 
the  west,  or  to  the  gate  of  the  farm,  or  to  an  angle  of 
the  terrace.     Elsewhere  a  frog  or  a  large  black  beetle  is 
suspended  under  similar  conditions  to  a  pole  of  the  mill  or  to 
the  lower  branch  of  a  tree.     They  think  that  the  wind  is  pro- 
duced by  the  animal,  which  does  not  cease  to  move  its  legs  to 
and  fro.     The  Ida  Ouzzal  provoke  the  west  wind  by  hanging 
a  schoolboy's  slate  to  the  higher  branch  of  a  carob  tree, 
Under  the  influence  of  the  sacred  words  inscribed  on  the  slate 
the  leaves  of  the  tree  flutter  and  so  call  up  the  desired  wind. 
At  Timgicht  an  amulet  is  inscribed  by  a  shereef  and  fastened 
to  the  highest  branch  of  the  tallest  carob  tree  on  the  hills 
which  dominate  the  village.     It  is  believed  in  the  same  way 
that  this  will  cause  the  leaves  to  flutter,  and  thus  give  birth  to 
a  wind.     According  to  a  common  Berber  belief  the  wind 
cannot  blow  if  its  progress  is  arrested  by  any  obstacle.     Hence 
when  wind  is  wanted  they  will  sometimes  undo  the  tresses  of 
their  hair  for  the  purpose  of  delivering  the  wind  from  the 
barrier  which  might  prevent  it  from  rising.     Among  the  O. 
Yahya,  when  the  time  for  winnowing  has  come  but  there  is 
no  wind  the  farmer  will  tell  his  women-folk,  "  Unbind  your 
hair,  for  I  am  going  to  winnow.1'     Among  the  Achtouken 
young  girls  act  in  the  same  way  for  the  same  purpose  :  they 
unloosen  their  tresses,  and  soak  them  with  henna,  then  comb 
them  out,  praying  for  a  wind.    Among  the  Ida  Ou  Brahim 
when  the  desired  wind  obstinately  refuses  to  rise  they  take  a 
boy,  the  last  born  of  an  old  woman,  dress  him  in  a  brown 
garment,  and  lead  him  into  the  garden.     From  there  they 
conduct  him  to  the  heap  of  grain  that  is  to  be  winnowed,  and 
having  posted  him  with  his  face  to  the  west,  they  tell  him  to 
whistle.     The  boy  complies,  and  whistles  at  first  feebly,  but 

1  £.  Laoust,  Mots  it  choses  lerbtrot,  pp.  234  sg. 


louder  afterwards,  and  as  the  whistle  increases  in  sound  so 
the  wind  rises  proportionately.1 

Among  the  Birhors  of  the  Chota  Nagpur  in  India 'the 
members  of  the  different  clans  are  supposed  to  be  endowed 
with  various  magical  powers,   differing   according  to   the 
region  from  which  the  ancestors  of  the  clan  originally  came. 
"  Thus  the  Here  Hembrom  and  the  Khudi  Hembrom  clans 
are  said  to  have  powers  over  the  weather.     It  is  said  that 
when  high  wind  is  approaching,  if  a  man  of  either  of  these 
clans  pours  a  jug  of  water  on  the  Than  (spirit-seat)  or  in  front 
of  the  tribal  encampment  and  bids  the  storm  turn  aside,  the 
storm  will  immediately  take  a  different  direction,  and  even 
though  it  may  blow  hard  on  the  country  all  around,  the  hill  or 
jungle  in  which  these  clans  may  be  encamping  will  remain 
quite  calm  and  undisturbed.     The  reason  why  the  men  of 
these  clans  are  said  to  be  the  maliks  or  masters  of  the  storm 
is  explained  by  saying  that  their  Buru-bongas  (mountain- 
gods)  or  Ora-bongas  (home-gods)'  are  situated  to  the  north, 
which  is  the  home  of  storms.     Members  of  \h&Jegseria  Latka 
clan,  whose  ancestral  home  and  '  home-god  '  (Ora-bonga)  are 
further  north  than  those  of  the  Here  Hembrom  and  Khudi 
Hembrom  clans,  are  credited  with  the  power  of  controlling 
monsoon  rains  and  high  winds  in  the  same  way.     But  with 
regard  to  this  clan,  it  is  also  said  that  their  special  power  over 
monsoon  winds  and  rain  is  derived  from  the  spirit  known  as 
Bhir  Dhir  Pancho  Panroa,  who  is  the  guardian  of  the  mon- 
soon rains  and  who  is  specially  propitiated  by  the  men  of  this 
clan  at  their  thans  or  spirit-seats.     It  is  said  that  monsoon 
winds  and  rains  will  always  abate  their  force  when  they 
approach  a  settlement  of  this  clan/'  a    When  high  winds 
blow  or  hailstorms  occur  Birhor  women  throw  a  husking 
pestle  on  the  courtyard,  and  this  is  said  to  make  the  wind 
abate  its  violence  and  the  hailstones  to  cease  falling.8 

In  South  China,  "  our  boatmen,  we  noticed,  whistled  for 
wind  in  the  same  fashion  as  our  sailors  do.  I  have  noticed 
this  often  in  Burma,  and  fancy  it  is  common  to  most 
countries."  4 

*  E.  Laoust,  op.  cit.  pp.  393  sq.  *  S.  C.  Roy,  op.  cit.  p.  368. 

S.  C.  Roy,  The  Birhors,  pp.  108  *  A.  R.  Colquhoun,  Across  Chrys* 
*?•  (London,  1883),  p.  52. 

II          THE  MAGICAL  CONTROL  OF  THE  WEATHER        99 

The  houses  of  the  Kai  people,  in  Northern  New  Guinea, 
are  perched  on  trees,  and  so  are  particularly  liable  to  suffer 
from  the  violence  of  high  winds.  They  personify  the  storm 
wind,  which  they  believe  to  come  from  some  distant  cave.  To 
abate  the  violence  of  the  storm  they  take  the  jaw-bone  of  a 
wild  animal  and  lay  it  on  the  fire,  with  a  request  to  the  storm 
that  he  will  take  the  jaw-bone  and  leave  the  house  in  peace. 
To  protect  themselves  further  against  its  violence  they  fasten 
a  spike  or  spear  to  the  outward  wall  of  the  house  with  its  point 
turned  in  the  direction  of  the  wind,  so  that  when  the  wind 
comes  the  spike  or  spear  may  wound  him  in  the  stomach,  and 
so  repel  him  from  the  house.  Or  at  every  gust  of  the  wind 
they  take  a  club  or  a  stone  axe  and  strike  the  balcony  of  the 
house,  saying,  "  If  you  enter  my  house,  I  will  beat  your  feet 
flat."  x 

Malay  seamen  seriously  believe  that  they  can  cause  the 
wind  to  blow  by  whistling.  When  the  naturalist  Hickson 
was  approaching  the  coast  of  Celebes  the  wind  suddenly 
failed,  whereupon  the  native  skipper  whistled  for  it  to  come, 
first  softly  and  then  angrily.2 

When  Spencer  and  Gillen  were  crossing  Australia  they 
came  among  the  Warramunga,  a  tribe  inhabiting  the  very 
heart  of  the  continent.  "  The  day  after  we  got  there  they 
were  busy  performing  a  wind  ceremony,  the  object  of  which 
was  to  make  the  wind  blow.  There  was  no  apparent  need  for 
the  ceremony,  as,  at  this  time  of  the  year,  scarcely  a  day  passes 
without  a  few  strong  gusts  sweeping  across  the  plains.  How- 
ever, they  firmly  believe  that  they  can  make  it  blow  or  make  it 
stop,  just  as  they  like.  At  one  time,  when  they  were  decorat- 
ing themselves,  the  gusts  were  very  unpleasant,  and  one  of  the 
other  men  told  a  wind-man  to  make  it  stop.  Accordingly  he 
shouted  out  to  the  wind,  and,  in  a  minute,  there  was  a  lull, 
and  no  one  doubted  but  that  this  was  due  to  the  power  of  the 
wind-man-  Next  day  it  blew  harder  than  ever,  of  course  as 
a  result  of  the  ceremony,  and  we  had  a  violent  dust-storm — in 
fact  a  day  hardly  passed  without  one.1'  3 

The  Caribs  of  the  West  Indies  had  various  modes  of 

1  Neuhauss,  op.  cit.  iii.  157.  •  Baldwin     Spencer    and    F.    J. 

1  S.  J.  Hickson,  A  Naturalist  in      Gillen,    Across    Australia    (London, 
North  Celebes  (London,  1889),  p.  14.        1912),  ii.  366. 


regulating  the  wind  and  the  weather.  When  they  saw  a  rain- 
cloud  about  to  burst  they  whistled  in  the  air  and  waved  their 
hands  in  order  to  drive  it  away  in  another  direction.  In 
order  to  make  the  sea  calm  and  lay  a  storm  they  chewed 
cassava  root  and  spat  it  into  the  air  and  into  the  sea  for  the 
purpose  of  pacifying  a  certain  spirit  named  Zemeen,  who, 
they  imagined  was  perhaps  angry  because  he  was  hungry.  If 
there  was  not  a  favourable  wind  an  old  man  would  strike  the 
stern  of  the  canoe  with  an  arrow,  after  which  the  canoe  would 
shoot  ahead  like  an  arrow.1 

In  Europe  the  custom  of  whistling  to  raise  the  wind  is  very 
common.  Many  examples  of  it  are  cited  by  Mr.  R.  Lasch  in 
a  learned  article.2 

1  De    la     Borde,     "  Relation    de  *  R.  Lasch,  "  Das  Pfeifen  und  seine 

1'oriyine    .    .    .    des     Caraibes,"    in  Beziehung  zu  Damonenglauben  und 

Receuil   de    divers    voyages  faits  en  Zauberei,"  in  Archiv  fiir  Religions- 

Afrique    et    en    VAmlrique    (Paris,  wissensckaft^  vol.  18  (1915)*  pp. 

1684),  p.  29.  sqq. 



IN  treating  of  the  rise  of  magicians  to  political  power  as  chiefs 
and  kings  I  had  occasion  to  notice  the  remarkable  social 
system  of  the  Australian  aborigines,  in  which  chiefs  are 
conspicuous  by  their  absence  and  their  place  of  authority  is 
taken  on  the  whole  by  the  old  men  of  the  tribe.1  For  this 
system  of  government  by  old  men  I  coined  the  word  geronto- 
cracy >  which  seems  now  to  be  generally  accepted  for  this  phase 
of  social  development.  The  system  is  found,  though  in  a  less 
marked  degree,  amongst  other  primitive  peoples  besides  the 
Australian  aborigines. 

On  the  system  as  it  existed  in  Australia  in  the  first  half  of 
the  nineteenth  century  I  may  cite  the  evidence  of  E.  J.  Eyre, 
who  was  intimately  acquainted  with  the  aborigines  of  Central 
Australia,  and  afterwards  attained  to  notoriety  as  Governor 
of  Jamaica.  "  There  can  hardly  be  said  to  be  any  form  of 
government  existing  among  a  people  who  recognize  no 
authority,  and  where  every  member  of  the  community  is  at 
liberty  to  act  as  he  likes,  except  in  so  far  as  he  may  be  in- 
fluenced by  the  general  opinion  or  wishes  of  the  tribe,  or  by1 
that  feeling  which  prompts  men,  whether  in  civilised  or 
savage  communities  to  bend  to  the  will  of  some  one  or  two 
persons  who  may  have  taken  a  more  prominent  and  leading 
part  than  the  rest  in  the  duties  and  avocations  of  life.  Among 
none  of  the  tribes  yet  known  have  chiefs  ever  been  found  to 
be  acknowledged,  though  in  all  there  are  some  men  who  take 
the  lead,  and  whose  opinions  and  wishes  have  great  weight 
with  the  others.  Other  things  being  equal,  a  man's  authority 

1  The  Golden  Bough:  The  Magic  Art  and  the  Evolution  of  Kings,  i.  332 




and  influence  increase  among  his  tribe  in  proportion  to  his 
years.  To  each  stage  of  life  through  which  he  passes  is  given 
some  additional  knowledge  or  power,  and  he  is  privileged  to 
carry  an  additional  number  of  implements  and  weapons,  as 
he  advances  in  life.  An  old  grey-headed  man  generally 
carries  the  principal  implements  and  weapons,  either  for 
war  or  sorcery  :  many  of  the  latter  the  women  and  children 
are  never  allowed  to  see,  such  as  pieces  of  rock-crystal,  by 
which  the  sorcerer  can  produce  rain,  cause  blindness,  or  im- 
part to  the  waters  the  power  of  destroying  life,  etc. ;  the  sacred 
dagger  for  causing  the  death  of  their  enemies  by  enchantment ; 
the  moor-y-um-karr  or  flat  oval  piece  of  wood  which  is 
whirled  round  the  camp  at  nights,  and  many  others  of  a  similar 
nature.  I  have  not,  however,  found  that  age  is  invariably 
productive  of  influence,  unless  the  individual  has  previously 
signalized  himself  among  his  people,  and  taken  up  a  com- 
manding position  when  youth  and  strength  enabled  him  to 
support  his  pretensions,  and  unless  he  be  still  in  full  posses- 
sion of  vigour  of  mind  and  energy  of  character,  though  no 
longer  endowed  with  personal  strength.  The  grey  head 
usually  appears  to  be  treated  with  respect  as  long  as  the  owner 
is  no  encumbrance  to  those  around  him,  but  the  moment  he 
becomes  a  drag  every  tie  is  broken  and  he  is  at  once  cast  off 
to  perish.  Among  many  tribes  with  which  I  have  been 
acquainted,  I  have  often  noticed  that  though  the  leading  men 
were  generally  elderly  men  from  forty-five  to  sixty  years  old, 
they  were  not  always  the  oldest ;  they  were  still  in  full  vigour 
of  body  and  mind,  and  men  who  could  take  a  prominent  part 
in  acting  as  well  as  in  counselling.'1 1 

Again,  with  regard  to  the  Andrawilla  tribe  of  East  Central 
Australia,  we  read  that  "  there  is  no  form  of  government. 
The  old  men  of  the  tribe  possess  a  large  amount  of  power 
over  the  younger  members  from  the  fact  that  they  perform  all 
the  important  tribal  ceremonies.  The  old  men  are  supposed 
to  be  able  to  make  rain,  and  inflict  and  cure  diseases,  and 
drive  away  devils  (koochoo)"  * 

1  E.  J,  Eyre,  Journals  of  Expedi-  Meeting  of  the  Australasian  Assotia* 

tions  of  Discovery  into  Central  Aus-  tion  for  the  Advancement  of  Science t 

tralia  (London,  1845),  &  3J5  *?•  1893,  p.  518. 

1  F,  H .  Wells,  in  Report  of  the  Fifth 


The  same  absence  of  effective  chiefs  and  the  same  practical 
predominance  of  old  men  have  been  recorded  among  the 
aboriginal  tribes  of  New  Guinea.  Thus  with  regard  to  the 
tribes  inhabiting  the  western  extremity  of  British  New 
Guinea  we  are  told  that  "  unlike  most  native  countries,  there 
is  not  in  Papua  a  village  head-man  or  any  one  person  who 
could  be  regarded  as  responsible  for  his  tribe  or  village.  It 
is  true  that  throughout  the  country  there  are  tribal  chiefs, 
but  in  most  cases  their  authority  counts  for  little,  or  is  obeyed 
in  special  cases  only.  The  war  chief  may  lead  in  time  of  war 
or  the  ceremonial  chief  at  the  time  of  festivals,  but  there  is  no 
person  whose  authority  is  implicitly  obeyed  in  all  circum- 
stances. The  government  of  a  tribe,  at  least  in  the  west, 
was  carried  on  by  a  sort  of  council  of  old  men  who  yarned 
over  and  came  to  some  conclusion  about  knotty  points,  but 
it  had  no  executive."  *•  Similarly  with  regard  to  the  Orokaiva, 
a  tribe  inhabiting  the  extreme  east  of  British  New  Guinea, 
we  are  told  that  "  there  is  no  well-defined  chieftainship  among 
the  Orokaiva,  but  merely  a  recognized  ascendancy  of  the  old 
men.  The  leader  and  ruler  of  any  clan  is  the  eldest  of  its 
men,  provided  he  is  not  so  old  as  to  be  incompetent,  and 
provided  always  that  his  personality  is  equal  to  his  position. 
It  is  consequently  difficult  to  find  a  word  which  would  corre- 
spond with  our  idea  of  '  chief/  and  unsatisfactory  to  use  the 
English  word  '  chief ',  as  too  pretentious  for  even  the  most 
important  of  clan  leaders."  a 

Among  these  people,  while  there  are  no  chiefs  of  the 
normal  type,  on  the  other  hand  magicians  appear  to  have 
attained  to  a  degree  of  social  influence  and  authority  which  in 
time  might  develop  into  a  regular  chieftainship.  Thus,  for 
example,  with  regard  to  the  natives  of  the  Fly  River  in  the 
western  part  of  British  New  Guinea,  we  are  told  that  "  politic- 
ally the  sorcerers  as  a  body,  partly  because  they  are  among 
the  elders  of  the  village,  and  partly  through  the  fear  they 
impose,  possess  a  deal  of  power.  It  is  very  largely  on  their 
advice  that  important  tribal  decisions  are  made.  It  is 
perhaps  hardly  necessary  to  say  that  every  Papuan,  no 
matter  how  civilized  he  is,  believes  firmly  in  sorcery  and  the 

1  W.  N.  Beaver,  Unexplored  New          "  F.  E.  Williams,  Orokaiva  Society 
Guinea  (London,  1920),  p.  30.  (London,  1930),  p.  104. 


power  of  the  sorcerers/'  l  Again  speaking  of  the  Girara 
tribes,  Mr.  Beaver,  a  good  observer,  says  "  the  chiefs  of  a 
village  appear  to  have  a  little  authority.  The  late  chief  of 
Barimo,  a  man  combining  the  dual  functions  of  chief  and 
sorcerer,  was  one  of  the  few  men  I  have  seen  implicitly 
obeyed  by  his  people."  *  Once  more  with  regard  to  the  bush 
people  of  western  British  New  Guinea,  Mr.  Beaver  tells  us, 
"  certain  men  are  credited  with  supernatural  powers  either 
acquired  or  by  inheritance,  and  the  people  are  prepared  to 
ascribe  everything  to  them.  The  coast  folk  invariably  say 
the  bush  people  are  powerful  sorcerers  and  the  bush  people 
accuse  each  other  of  the  same  thing.  Possibly  and  very  often 
the  sorcerer  himself  does  nothing  to  shake  this  belief.  Why 
should  he  ?  It  is  a  source  of  power  and  wealth  to  him,  whether 
it  be  black  or  white  magic.  When  anyone  dies  from  some 
unexplained  cause,  when  a  person  dies  from  snake-bite  (and 
in  New  Guinea  no  one  except  those  killed  in  battle  or  the  very 
aged  die  a  natural  death),  when  the  crops  fail,  when  there  is 
too  much  rain  or  too  little,  it  is  all  due  to  the  sorcerer.'1  3 

Once  more,  with  regard  to  the  Kiwai  of  British  New 
Guinea,  another  good  authority  informs  us  that  "  the  sor- 
cerer is  found  in  every  Kiwai  village  without  exception.     His 
influence  is  great,  and  the  whole  community  stands  in  awe 
of  him.     He  is  a  professor  of  magic  and  the  natives  have 
unbounded  faith  in  his  art  and  in  the  methods  employed  by 
him.     He  professes  to  have  the  power  to  cause  sickness  and 
death*     He  also  claims  to  be  able  to  counteract  the  evil  forces 
he  has  set  at  work,  and  to  restore  a  sick  man  to  health."  4 
Again  the  same  writer  observes  that  "  if  the  sorcerer  should 
be  angry  he  will  say  to  a  man  :   '  This  is  your  last  day  ;  you 
will  not  see  the  sun  rise  tomorrow.1     It  seems  impossible  to 
believe  that  such  a  curse  pronounced  upon  a  man  will  cause 
him  to  sicken  and  die,  but  so  great  is  the  fear  of  the  sorcerer 
and  his  charms  that  unless  the  curse  be  counteracted  the 
condemned  man  will  die.     He  gives  up  all  hope  and  simply 
passes   away." 6    With  regard   to  the   Yabim,  a  tribe   of 
Northern  New  Guinea,  we  learn  that  the  chief,  though  not 

1  Beaver,  op,  eft.  p.  135.  4  E.  Baxter  Riley,  Among  Papuan 

*  Beaver,  op.  cit.  p.  203.  Headkunters  (London,  1925),  p,  278. 

1  Beaver,  op.  cit.  p.  97.  *  E.  Baxter  Riley,  op*  tit*  p.  280 



necessarily  a  magician,  is  very  often  such.     He  is  chief  and 
magician  in  one.1 

In  Kiriwina,  one  of  the  Trobriand  Islands  lying  to  the  east 
of  New  Guinea,  the  functions  of  chief  and  magician  appear 
to  be  similarly  combined,  as  we  learn  from  the  following 
sage  of  the  experienced  missionary,  Dr.  George  Brown. 
"  The  Rev.  S.  B.  Fellows  gave  me  the  following  account  of  the 
beliefs  of  the  people  of  Kiriwina  (Trobriands  group)  :  The 
sorcerers,  who  are  very  numerous,  are  credited  with  the 
power  of  creating  the  wind  and  rain,  of  making  the  gardens 
;o  be  either  fruitful  or  barren,  and  of  causing  sickness  which 
leads  to  death.  Their  methods  of  operation  are  legion.  The 
great  chief,  who  is  also  the  principal  sorcerer,  claims  the  sole 
right  to  secure  a  bountiful  harvest  every  year.  This  function 
is  considered  of  transcendent  importance  by  the  people."  a 

In  Africa  the  political  influence  of  the  magician  is  very 
eat.     His  office  is  often  exercised  by  the  chief  or  king  him- 
self.    In  that  continent  a  special  function  which  the  magician 
is  called  upon  to  perform  is  that  of  procuring  rain,  and  the 
rain-maker  often  rises  to  be  the  chief  or  king  of  his  tribe. 
Elsewhere  I  have  dealt  at  some  length  with  this  branch  of  the 
subject,8  but  here  I  will  adduce  some  fresh  evidence.     Thus 
with  regard  to  the  tribes  inhabiting  the  valley  of  the  Kasai, 
a  tributary  of  the  Congo,  we  are  told  that  while  the  rule  of 
the  chiefs  is  absolute,  a  still  greater  influence  is  exercised  over 
the  people  by  the  magicians  or  medicine-men.     Faith  in  the 
power  of  these  men  is  deeply  rooted  in  the  negro  mind.     The 
edicine-man  concerns  himself  not  only  with  the  treatment 
of  disease  :   he  has  medicines  or  charms  against  misfortune, 
s    wild  animals,  and  enemies,  and  for  good  luck  in  hunting  and 
-I  in  war,  for  the  prosperity  of  the  fields  and  so  on.     In  short  he 

"  is  credited  with  the  power  of  determining  the  weal  or  woe  of 
the  people  in  every  department  of  life.4  Speaking  of  the 
Akamba  or  Kamba  tribe  of  Kenya,  the  missionary  Krapf  tells 
us  that  '^wealth,  a  ready  flow  of  language,  an  imposing  per- 
sonal appearance,  and,  above  all,  the  reputations  of  being  a 

U-    -JC        l  R.      Neuhauss,      Devtsch    Neu-  Art  and  the  Evolution  of  Kings,  i. 

Guinea,  iii.  309.  342  sqq. 

2  (>.  Brown,  Melanesians  and  Poly-  4  Im  Inneren  Afrikas,  by  H.  Wiss* 

nesuinS)  p.  236.  rnann,  L.  Wolf,  C.  von  Francois,  H. 

*  The.  Golden  Bough  :  -The  Magit  Muller  (Leipzig,  1888),  pp.  141  sqq. 


magician  and  rain-maker,  are  the  surest  means  by  which  a 
Mkamba  can  attain  power  and  importance  and  secure  the 
obedience  of  his  countrymen."  x  Among  the  Suk,  another 
tribe  of  Kenya,  there  are  two  grades  of  chiefs,  Lemurok  or 
medicine-men  and  Lekatuknok  or  advisers.  "  These  two 
grades  exist  side  by  side,  but  there  is  not  a  Lemurok  in  each 
section.  Each  section  has  its  chief,  but  there  are  at  present 
only  two  Lemurok.,  The  powers .  of  Lemurok  are  based  on 
their  knowledge  of  magic,  and  nothing  of  importance  can 
be  initiated  without  their  advice.  Thus,  if  it  is  proposed 
to  make  war,  the  first  thing  to  be  done  is  to  consult  the 
Lemurok,  who,  if  they  approve,  will  demoralize  their  oppo- 
nents by  magic.  They  do  not  fight  themselves,  but  without 
their  advice  and  spells  nothing  can  be  done.  Again,  if  a 
man  wishes  to  remove  his  cattle  to  some  pasture,  he  must 
first  consult  the  Lemurok,  who  know  by  their  magic  whether 
the  place  is  fly-infected  or  suitable  for  cattle.  They  are  also 
supposed  to  be  able  to  foretell  any  cattle  disease  and  are  thus 
able  to  take  precautionary  measures."  a 

Among  the  Bakerewe,  who  inhabit  the  largest  island  in 
Lake  Victoria  Nyanza,  the  rain-makers  enjoy  a  great  reputa- 
tion, for  the  making  of  rain  is  thought  to  be  of  the  first  im- 
portance by  the  people.  Hence  this  office  of  rain-making  is 
often  reserved  for  the  king :  he  is  the  great,  the  supreme, 
maker  of  rain  for  the  country  :  and  it  is  to  him  that  his  sub- 
jects address  themselves  as  a  last  resort  in  times  of  drought. 
If  he  succeeds  in  his  enchantments  he  soon  becomes  popular  ; 
but  if  he  fails  he  is  universally  despised  and  ruthlessly 
dethroned.8  We  have  already  seen  that  among  the  Basoga 
of  the  Central  District,  on  the  Northern  shore  of  Lake 
Victoria  Nyanza,  the  chief  is  regularly  expected  to  make 
rain  for  his  people,  and  was  roundly  abused  by  them  if  he 
failed  to  answer  to  their  expectations.4 

Among  the  Kuku,  a  tribe  of  the  Upper  White  Nile,  the 
most  important  personage  is  the  Mata-lo-pion  or  the  chief  of 
water.  He  is  credited  with  the  power  of  making  or  stopping 

1  J.  L.Krapf,  Travels  and  Mission-  *  P.  E.   Hurel,   "Religion   et   vie 
ary  Labours  in  East  Africa  (London,  domestique  des   Bakerewe/1  in   An* 
1860),  p.  355.  thropos.  vi.  (ion)  p.  84. 

2  M.  W.  H.  Beech,  The  Suk  (Ox- 
ford, 1911),  pp.  36  sf.  4  See  above,  p. 


the  rain.  Special  virtue  is  attributed  to  him,  and  his  functions 
are  hereditary.  He  possesses  a  particular  stone  which  is 
deposited  permanently  on  the  tomb  of  his  father  :  it  differs 
in  no  respect  from  the  stones  which  the  people  generally  use 
in  grinding  corn.  It  is  large,  round,  and  slightly  hollow  at 
the  centre  on  the  upper  part.  When  the  chief  of  water  desires 
to  make  rain  he  pours  water  on  the  stone,  and  when  he  desires 
to  stop  the  rain  he  removes  the  water  from  the  hollow  of  the 
stone.  In  both  cases  he  begins  by  offering  food  and  drink 
at  the  tomb  of  his  father,  then  he  addresses  his  shade  and  begs 
him  to  grant  his  prayer,  thus  reinforcing  the  magical  rite  by 
the  religious  rite  of  prayer.1 

Again,  speaking  of  the  Bari,  a  tribe  of  the  Upper  White 
Nile  in  Uganda,  the  Italian  explorer  Casati  says  that  "  they 
have  not  many  superstitious  practices,  but  their  respect  and 
veneration  for  the  dispensers  of  rain  are  greater  than  those 
felt  for  the  chiefs  of  the  country.  Exorcisms  for  rain  are  the 
source  of  great  remuneration  to  those  who  practise  them,  but 
are  often  the  cause  of  murder,  especially  when  the  forecast  is 
not  confirmed  by  facts.' ' 2  In  this  tribe  the  rain-maker  operates 
by  means  of  a  stone  over  which  he  possesses  an  occult  power 
that  makes  him,  we  are  told,  virtually  the  king  of  the  tribe.3 

Among  the  Mossi,  a  people  of  the  Western  Sudan,  the 
power  of  making  or  stopping  rain  is  attributed  above  all  to 
the  supreme  ruler  or  king  (nabd),  the  master  of  the  life  and 
death  of  his  subjects.  But  indeed  a  similar  faculty  is  ascribed 
by  the  people  to  every  powerful  man,  and  the  missionary  who 
reports  the  belief  was  himself  invited  to  act  as  rain-maker. 
When  the  king  wishes  to  make  rain  he  brings  out  of  his  house 
a  pitcher  containing  certain  herbs  which  he  fills  with  water 
to  the  brim.  If,  on  the  other  hand,  he  desires  to  stop  the  rain, 
he  burns  herbs  of  other  sorts  and  the  wind  drifts  the  smoke  in 
the  direction  in  which  he  wishes  the  rain-clouds  to  depart. 
Or  again  he  hangs  the  tail  of  a  cow  or  a  horse  by  a  thread  from 
a  stick,  and  as  the  tail  flaps  in  the  breeze  the  wind  drives 
away  the  clouds.  Hence  when  the  rainy  season  is  approach- 

1  J.     Vanden     Plas,     Les     Kuku          3  As  to  the  rain-makers  of  the  Bari, 

(Bruxelles,  1910),  p.  293-  see    furth<*  ,c-    G'  ^elign£n.z  an(* 

Brenda  Z.  Seligman,  Pagan  Tribes  of 

*  G.  Casati,  Ten  Years  in  £quatoria      the   Nilotic   Sudan   (London,    1932), 
(London,  1891),  i.  3°4*  PP-  247 


ing  he  sends  one  of  his  people  to  the  market-place  to  get  nuts 
of  a  certain  sort  from  the  women  who  have  brought  them 
thither,  for  these  nuts  are  necessary  ingredients  of  the  charms 
which  he  concocts  for  the  control  of  the  rain.* 

The  Berbers  of  Morocco  believe  that  the  whole  welfare 
of  the  country  depends  upon  a  certain  magical  power  (baraka) 
which  they  attribute  to  the  Sultan  of  Morocco.  On  this 
subject  Dr.  Edward  Westermarck  tells  us  that  "  it  is  on  the 
Sultan's  baraka  that  the  welfare  of  the  whole  country  depends. 
When  it  is  strong  and  unpolluted  the  crops  are  abundant, 
the  women  give  birth  to  good  children,  and  the  country  is 
prosperous  in  every  respect ;  in  the  summer  of  1908  the 
natives  of  Tangier  attributed  the  exceptionally  good  sardine 
fishery  to  Mulai  Hafid's  accession  to  the  throne.  On  the 
other  hand,  in  the  reign  of  his  predecessor  the  deterioration 
or  loss  of  the  Sultan's  baraka  showed  itself  in  disturbances 
and  troubles,  in  drought  and  famine,  and  in  the  fruit  falling 
down  from  the  trees  before  it  was  ripe.  Nay,  even  in  those 
parts  of  Morocco  which  are  not  subject  to  the  Sultan's  worldly 
rule,  the  people  believe  that  their  welfare,  and  especially  the 
crops,  are  dependent  on  his  baraka"* 

In  Africa  the  rain-maker  who  fails  to  bring  rain  is  often 
punished  for  his  failure.  Elsewhere  I  have  given  examples 
inflicted  upon  unsuccessful  rain-makers.3  Here  I  may  give 
a  few  others.  Thus  among  the  tribes  inhabiting  the  eastern 
shores  of  Lake  Tanganyika  the  kings  are  credited  with  the 
power  of  causing  the  rain  to  fall  at  the  season  when  it  is 
needed  for  the  digging  of  the  earth  and  the  sowing  of  the 
seed.  If  the  rain  does  not  fall  at  the  due  time,  or  is  too  scanty, 
the  people  lay  the  blame  upon  the  king  and  tell  him  that  he 
does  not  know  his  business.  After  that,  if  the  drought  still 
continues,  the  people  take  the  matter  into  their  own  hand  and 
depose  the  sluggard  king.4  We  have  seen  that  the  Bakerewe 
depose  their  king  in  a  similar  case  of  prolonged  drought.* 
With  regard  to  rain-makers  among  the  Bagesu  of  Mount 
Elgon  in  Kenya  we  are  told  by  Canon  Roscoe :  "  By  con- 

1  P.  E.  Mangin,  "  Les  Mossi,"  in  »  The  Golden  Bough  :    The  Magic 

Anthropos,  x.-xi,  (1915-1916)  p.  212.  Art,  etc.,  pp.  344  sgg>,  352, 

*  E.    Westermarck,    The   Moorish  *  Mgr.  Lechaptois,  Aux  jRiws  du 

Conception  of  Holiness  (tiaraka)  (Hel-  T&nganika  (Alger,  H)13),  p.  75. 

singfors,  1916),  pp.  9  sq.  *  See  above,  p.  106. 


stantly  using  their  magical  arts  and  seeking  to  influence 
others,  and  by  their  effort  to  regulate  the  supply  of  sunshine 
and  rain,  they  have  come  to  believe  that  they  can  bring  about 
what  is  wanted,  and  the  people  have  the  utmost  faith  in  their 
powers.  These  men  have  not  always  the  happiest  existence. 
There  are  days  which  for  them  are  decidedly  unpleasant, 
anxious  days,  full  of  evil  omens.  Rain  does  not  always  fall 
at  the  right  moment,  and  crops  suffer  in  consequence.  The 
people  then  betake  themselves  to  the  rain-maker,  carrying 
offerings  and  making  requests  for  immediate  showers  of  rain. 
If  the  rain  comes  in  a  day  or  two,  all  is  well ;  but  should  weeks 
pass  without  a  shower,  then  the  crops  wither  up  and  the 
people  become  angry  and  remonstrate  with  the  rain-maker  for 
not  exerting  himself  and  giving  them  what  they  require. 
Should  the  rain  still  be  delayed,  they  attack  him,  rob  him, 
burn  down  his  house,  and  roughly  handle  him,  even  to  doing 
him  bodily  injury." l 

The  Ten'a  Indians  of  the  Yukon  Valley  in  Alaska  regard 
their  shamans  or  magicians  with  great  respect  as  supernatural 
beings,  endowed  with  marvellous  powers,  in  virtue  of  the 
familiar  spirit  (een)  by  which  each  of  them  is  supposed  to  be 
attended.  The  Indian  is  proud  of  his  shaman  and  boasts  of 
his  achievements,  yet  at  heart  he  hates  him,  for  to  him  are 
attributed  many  of  the  accidents  and  misfortunes  which  befall 
the  people.  For  example,  if  a  hunter  has  been  out  hunting 
and  has  failed  to  kill  game  he  will  impute  his  failure  to  the 
machinations  of  a  shaman.  Or  if  a  man  is  killed  by  accident, 
the  people  will  think  that  some  one  of  the  victim's  relatives  is 
a  shaman,  who  intended  to  kill  another  shaman,  missed  his 
aim  in  consequence  of  the  other's  familiar  spirit,  and  involun- 
tarily killed  another  in  his  stead.  Some  years  ago  there  lived 
on  the  Koyukuk  river  an  unfortunate  who  was  dumb,  deaf, 
and  blind  :  his  condition  was  considered  the  natural  and 
befitting  punishment  for  his  having  taken  back  gifts  which  he 
had  already  bestowed  on  a  shaman.  It  is  natural,  therefore, 
that  among  these  Indians  the  magicians  or  shamans  should 
be  more  feared  than  loved.2  In  South  America  the  Kanamari 

1  J.  Roscoe,  The  Northern  Bantu,      of  the  Ten'a  Indians/'  in 
p.  i,S2.  -vi.  (1911)  pp.  718  sq. 

1  F.  J.  Jette,  "  On  the  Superstitions 


Indians  of  the  Amazon  believed  that  neither  sickness  nor 
death  was  due  to  natural  causes,  but  was  the  result  of  magic 
or  witchcraft.  Hence  the  magicians,  who  could  thus  dispose 
of  the  health  and  life  of  every  individual,  were  greatly  feared, 
and  enjoyed  an  authority  at  least  equal  to  that  of  the  chiefs.1 
Similarly,  in  the  opinion  of  the  Jibaros,  a  tribe  inhabiting  the 
upper  waters  of  the  Amazon,  there  is  no  such  thing  as  natural 
death.  Every  disease,  every  death  is  considered  as  the  result 
of  an  evil  spell  cast  by  an  enemy  through  the  medium  of  a 
sorcerer.  Every  tribe  thus  possesses  its  sorcerer  or  huishinu, 
and  as  he  who  can  cause  the  disease  can  equally  heal  it  this 
person  is  at  the  same  time  the  doctor ;  in  Jibaro  the  same 
word  designates  the  two  functions.  These  sorcerers  have  a 
considerable  power  and  influence  on  the  life  of  the  savages. 
They  are  feared  and  receive  attentions  from  everybody,  they 
are  loaded  with  presents,  but  their  situation  is  not  exempt 
from  perils  ;  of  all  the  individuals  of  a  tribe  the  sorcerer  stands 
the  greatest  risk  of  perishing  tragically,  whether  it  be  that  a 
neighbouring  people  accuses  him  of  having  caused  by  his 
magic  the  death  of  one  of  their  members,  or  whether  it  be  that 
in  the  tribe  itself  he  has  excited  the  suspicions  of  the  sons  of  a 
sick  man  whom  he  has  not  been  able  to  cure,  and  who  may  be 
a  member  of  the  sorcerer's  own  family.  The  fame  of  certain 
sorcerers  extends  sometimes  beyond  the  limits  of  the  group  to 
which  they  belong,  and  people  do  not  hesitate  to  go  and  seek 
them  from  a  distance  of  eight  or  ten  days'  march  to  bring 
them  to  the  death-bed  of  a  man  of  quality.  It  does  not  appear 
that  this  function  is  the  privilege  of  certain  families  :  it  is 
rather  the  most  intelligent  men  who,  attracted  by  the  advan- 
tages of  the  profession,  gradually  acquire  by  their  skill  and 
astuteness  a  reputation  in  the  little  circle  where  they  live. 
Further,  exorcism  is  always  accompanied  by  the  administra- 
tion of  infusions  of  medicinal  plants  or  of  secret  remedies,  and 
the  skilful  sorcerers  do  not  venture  to  treat  a  patient  except 
when  the  case  seems  to  admit  of  cure.2 

Elsewhere  I  have  shown  some  grounds  for  thinking  that 
among  the  Malays  the  king  or  rajah  may  sometimes  have  been 

1  R.  Vcrneau,   "  fitude  ethnogra*          «  Dr.    Rivet,   in    Ll >  Antkropologi*, 
phique  des  Indiens  de  TAmazone,"  in      xix.  (1908)  p.  239. 
I? AnthropologU,  vol.  31  (1921),  p.  266. 

Ill  MA  GICIA  NS  AS  KINGS  1 1 1 

developed  out  of  the  magician.1  The  same  question  has  more 
recently  been  discussed  by  a  competent  authority,  who  says  : 
"  Are  there  traces  of  the  magician  in  the  Malay  king  ? 
Among  some,  at  least,  of  the  Proto-Malay  tribes  of  the 
Peninsula  the  commoner  chief  or  Batin  is  judge,  priest,  and 
magician.  Between  the  old-world  commoner  chiefs  of  the 
matriarchal  tribes  of  Negri  Sembilan  and  the  Raja  ruler  there 
are  several  ties.  Like  the  magician  (and  the  European 
district  officer  !)  both  can  influence  the  weather,  a  wet  season 
will  be  ascribed  to  a  cold  constitution.  Both  are  chosen  from 
several  branches  of  one  family,  theoretically  from  each  branch 
in  rotation,  actually  from  the  branch  that  happens  to  possess 
the  candidate  most  suitable  in  years  and  character.  Both, 
therefore,  like  the  Malay  magician,  hold  '  offices  hereditary  or 
at  least  confined  to  the  members  of  one  family.1  Like  the 
Brahmin,  the  Malay  ruler  and  the  Malay  magician  have  a 
tabu  language.  A  king  does  not  *  walk/  but  '  has  himself 
carried  ' ;  he  does  not *  bathe,'  but  is  '  sprinkled  like  a  flower '; 
he  does  not  '  live  '  but  *  resides  ' ;  he  does  not  -  feed  '  but 
*  takes  a  repast '  ;  he  does  not '  die  '  but '  is  borne  away.'  Of 
the  dozen  or  more  words  constituting  this  vocabulary  half  are 
Malay,  half  Sanskrit.  Shaman  and  ruler  both  have  felt  the 
influence  of  Hinduism.  Like  the  magician,  the  ruler  has 
wonder-working  insignia  of  office.  The  tambourine  and 
other  appurtenances  of  the  shaman  will  generate  an  evil  spirit 
if  not  bequeathed  to  a  successor.  .  .  .  According  to  an  old 
account  the  State  shaman  of  Perak  was  eligible  for  the  Sul- 
tanate, and  the  Raja  Muda,  or  heir  to  the  throne,  could 
become  State  shaman.  Modern  man  has  forgotten  that  in 
appropriating  buffaloes  with  peculiar  horns,  albino  children, 
turtles'  eggs,  and  other  freaks  of  Nature,  the  Malay  ruler 
started  not  as  a  grasping  tyrant  but  as  a  magician,  competent 
above  all  his  people  to  face  the  dangers  of  the  unusual  and  the 
untried.  For  under  paganism,  Hinduism,  and  Islam  magician 
and  raja  dead  and  alive  have  been  credited  with  supernatural 

Among  the  tribes  of  south-west  Madagascar  the  regalia  of 
the  kings  are  regarded  as  deities  and  worshipped  with  prayer 

1  The  Golden  Bough  .•    The  Magic          *  R.  O.  Winstedt,  Shaman,  Saiva, 
Art,  etc.,  i.  361.  and  Sufi, 


and  sacrifice.  They  are  lodged  in  a  miniature  house  to  the 
east  of  the  palace.  The  little  house  is  enclosed  by  a  fence 
with  two  openings,  one  of  them  to  the  west  for  the  entrance  of 
worshippers  and  one  to  the  east  for  the  entry  of  the  sacrificial 
animals.  The  regalia  consist  of  the  teeth  of  crocodiles.  At 
his  accession  every  king  gets  a  new  set  of  these  teeth  from  a 
living  crocodile,  the  largest  teeth  being  chosen  for  the  pur- 
pose. The  crocodiles  are  supposed  to  devour  only  wicked 
persons,  and  to  spare  the  lives  of  the  good  and  innocent.  In 
one  case,  at  least,  the  crocodiles  from  which  the  teeth  are  taken 
live  in  a  sacred  lake.1 

In  the  House  of  Commons  under  Elizabeth  it  was  openly 
asserted  "  that  absolute  princes,  such  as  the  sovereigns  of 
England,  were  a  species  of  divinity. "  2    A  relic  of  this  belief 
in  the  divinity  of  English  kings  and  queens  was  the  notion 
that  they  could  heal  scrofula  by  their  touch.     Hence  the 
disease  was  known  as  "  The  King's  Evil."     On  this  subject 
the   historian   Hume,   writing   in   the  eighteenth    century, 
observes  :  "  Edward  the  Confessor  was  the  first  that  touched 
for  the  king's  evil :    The  opinion  of  his  sanctity  procured 
belief  to  this  cure  among  the  people  :  His  successors  regarded 
it  as  a  part  of  their  state  and  grandeur  to  uphold  the  same 
opinion.     It  has  been  continued  down  to  our  time  ;   and  the 
practice  has  been  first  dropped  by  the  present  royal  family, 
who  observed  that  it  could  no  longer  give  amusement  even  to 
the  populace  and  was  attended  with  ridicule  in  the  eyes  of  all 
men  of  understanding/1 8     But  though  the  belief  in  power  by 
kings  to  heal  scrofula  by  their  touch  has  long  ceased  to  be 
held  by  our  sovereigns  themselves  and  by  educated  people  in 
general,  it  seems  to  linger  among  the  ignorant  and  super- 
stitious, even  in  the  twentieth  century.     On  this  subject  Miss 
Sheila  Macdonald,  dealing  with  the  folklore  of  Ross-shire, 
writes  as  follows :    "An  old  shepherd  of  ours  who  suffered 
from  scrofula  or  king's  evil,  often  bewailed  his  inability  to  get 
within  touching  distance  of  Her  late  Gracious  Majesty.     He 
was  convinced  that  by  so  doing  his  infirmity  would  at  once  be 

1  G.   Julien,   "  Notes  et   observa-  vii.  (1926)  pp.  i  sg. 

tions  sur  les  tribus  sud-occidentals  de  *  D.  Hume,  History  of  England, 

Madagascar,"     in    Revue     d'ethno-  vol.  v.  p.  441. 

frapkie  et  des  traditions  populaircs,  3  D.  Hume,  op.  cit.  i.  178  sg 


cured.  '  Ach  no,'  he  would  say  mournfully,  '  I  must  just  be 
content  to  try  to  get  to  Lochaber  instead  some  day,  and  get 
the  leighiche  (healer)  there  to  cure  me.'  The  said  leighiche 
is  the  seventh  son  of  a  seventh  son,  and  as  is  well  known,  such 
people  are  credited  with  being  able  to  cure  not  only  king's  evil, 
but  many  other  specific  diseases."  x  The  belief  that  kings 
had  the  power  to  heal  scrofula  by  their  touch  has  been  by  no 
means  confined  to  our  English  monarchs.  It  was  claimed 
and  exercised  by  French  kings  from  Philip  I  in  the  eleventh 
century  down  to  Louis  XVI  in  the  eighteenth.  The 
miraculous  gift  was  exercised  for  example  by  Louis  VI,  who 
reigned  from  1 108  to  1 1 37.  The  sick  flocked  to  him  in  crowds 
to  be  touched,  and  the  king  himself  performed  the  ceremony 
with  full  confidence  in  its  healing  virtue.2  In  1494  Charles 
VIII  of  France  touched  for  the  king's  evil  at  Naples.3 

1  S.  Macdonald,  "  Old  World  Sur-  ments,  is  the  fullest  account  of  the 
vivals  in  Ross-shire."  in  Folk- Lore  ^  subject.    A  less  full  account  is  that  of 
xiv.  (1904)  p.  372.  Dr.  Raymond  Crawfurd,  The  Kzng's 

2  M.    Bloch,    Les    Rois    Thauma-  Evil  (Oxford,  1911). 

turges  (Strasburg,  1924),  pp.  31,  401.  8  W.  Roscoe,  The  Life  of  Leo  the 
This  book,  based  on  historical  docu-  Tenth  (London,  1846),  i.  120. 



CHIEFS  and  others  who  claim  to  be  incarnate  human  gods 
abounded  among  the  Polynesians  of  the  Pacific  Islands.  On 
this  subject  we  have  the  excellent  evidence  of  the  American 
ethnographer,  Horatio  Hale,  who  shared  in  the  American 
expedition  to  the  Pacific  of  1838-1842,  while  the  Polynesian 
system  of  religion  and  polity  was  still  in  full  bloom.  After 
arguing  that  the  Polynesian  system  of  taboo  may  have  origin- 
ated in  the  claims  of  some  man  either  to  communicate  with 
divine  powers  or  to  be  himself  animated  and  pervaded  by 
divine  attributes,  he  proceeds  as  follows  :  "  A  strong  argu- 
ment in  favour  of  this  view  of  the  origin  of  the  tabu,  is  found 
in  the  fact  that  on  nearly  if  not  quite  all  the  groups,  there  have 
been,  at  a  very  late  period,  men  who  have  been  regarded  by 
the  natives  as  partaking  of  the  divine  nature — in  short,  as 
earthly  gods.  At  the  Navigator  Islands  two  such  individuals, 
father  and  son,  by  name  Tamafainga',  had,  for  many  years, 
down  to  the  period  of  the  first  arrival  of  the  missionaries,  held 
the  inhabitants  in  slavish  awe,  and  ruled  them  by  their  will, 
by  the  dread  of  their  supernatural  power.  At  the  Tonga 
Islands,  though  it  is  not  known  that  any  person  is  actually 
worshipped,  as  elsewhere,  there  are  two  high  chiefs,  whose 
official  titles  are  Tuitonga  and  Viati,  and  a  woman,  called  the 
Tamaha,  who  are  believed  to  be  descended  from  gods,  and 
are  treated  with  reverence  on  that  account  by  all,  not  except- 
ing the  king,  who  regards  them  as  his  superiors  in  rank.  In 
New  Zealand  the  great  warrior-chief,  Hongi,  claimed  for  him- 
self the  title  of  a  god,  and  was  so  called  by  his  followers.  At 
the  Society  Islands,  Tamatoa,  the  last  heathen  king  of  Raiatea, 


CHAP.  IV  INC  A  RNA  TE  HUM  A  N  GODS  1  1  5 

was  worshipped  as  a  divinity.  At  the  Marquesas  there  are, 
on  every  island,  several  men  who  are  termed  atua,  or  gods, 
who  receive  the  same  adoration,  and  are  believed  to  possess 
the  same  attributes  as  other  deities.  In  the  Sandwich  Islands, 
that  the  reverence  shown  to  some  of  the  chiefs  bordered  on 
religious  worship  is  evident  from  a  passage  in  a  speech  of 
John  li  (formerly  a  priest  and  now  one  of  the  best  informed 
of  the  native  orators)  delivered  in  1841,  and  published  in  the 
Polynesian  for  May  I,  of  that  year,  in  which  he  gives  an 
account  of  some  of  their  ancient  superstitions.  He  says, 
'  Here  is  another  sort  of  tabu  which  I  have  seen,  namely,  that 
relating  to  high  chiefs,  and  especially  to  the  king.  They 
were  called  gods  by  some,  because  their  houses  were  sacred, 
and  everything  that  pertained  to  their  persons.'  At  Depey- 
ster's  Group,  the  westernmost  cluster  of  Polynesia,  we  were 
visited  by  a  chief  who  announced  himself  as  the  atua  or  god 
of  the  islands  and  was  acknowledged  as  such  by  the  other 


But  possession  by  divine  spirit  is  by  no  means  always 
permanent  :  very  often  it  is  merely  temporary,  as  in  the  case 
of  priests  or  others  who  profess  to  give  oracular  utterances 
through  a  divine  spirit  who  has  entered  into  their  bodies  and 
speaks  through  them.  In  Fiji  the  priest  used  to  give  such 
oracles.  The  procedure  has  been  described  by  the  missionary 
Thomas  Williams,  one  of  the  earliest  and  best  authorities  on 
the  Fijian  religion.  He  says  :  "  One  who  intends  to  consult 
the  oracle  dresses  and  oils  himself,  and,  accompanied  by  a 
few  others,  goes  to  the  priest,  who,  we  will  suppose,  has  been 
previously  informed  of  the  intended  visit,  and  is  lying  near 
the  sacred  corner,  getting  ready  his  response.  When  the 
party  enters  he  rises,  and  sits  so  that  his  back  is  near  the  white 
cloth  by  which  the  god  visits  him,  while  the  others  occupy  the 
opposite  side  of  the  bure  (temple).  The  principal  person 
presents  a  whale's  tooth,  states  the  purpose  of  the  visit,  and 
expresses  a  hope  that  the  god  will  regard  him  with  favour. 
Sometimes  there  is  placed  before  the  priest  a  dish  of  scented 
oil,  with  which  he  anoints  himself,  and  then  receives  the  tooth, 
regarding  it  with  deep  and  serious  attention.  Unbroken 

1  H.  Hale,   United  States  Explor-      Philology    (Philadelphia,    1846),   pp, 
ing    Expedition,    Ethnography    and      19 

1 16  INCA  RNA  TE  HUM  A  N  GODS  CHAP. 

silence  follows.  The  priest  becomes  absorbed  in  thought, 
and  all  eyes  watch  him  with  unblinking  steadiness.  In  a  few 
minutes  he  trembles  ;  slight  distortions  are  seen  in  his  face, 
and  twitching  movements  in  his  limbs.  These  increase  to  a 
violent  muscular  action,  which  spreads  until  the  whole  frame 
is  strongly  convulsed,  and  the  man  shivers  as  with  a  strong 
ague  fit.  In  some  instances  this  is  accompanied  with  murmurs 
and  sobs,  the  veins  are  greatly  enlarged,  and  the  circulation 
of  the  blood  quickened.  The  priest  is  now  possessed  by  his 
god,  and  all  his  words  and  actions  are  considered  as  no  longer 
his  own,  but  those  of  the  deity  who  has  entered  into  him. 
Shrill  cries  of  '  Koi  an  !  Koi  au  !  '  fill  the  air,  and  the  god 
is  supposed  thus  to  notify  his  approach.  While  giving  the 
answer,  the  priest's  eyes  stand  out  and  roll  as  in  a  frenzy ; 
his  voice  is  unnatural,  his  face  pale,  his  lips  livid,  his  breathing 
depressed,  and  his  entire  appearance  like  that  of  a  furious 
madman.  The  sweat  runs  from  every  pore,  and  tears  start 
from  his  strained  eyes,  after  which  the  symptoms  gradually 
disappear.  The  priest  looks  round  with  a  vacant  stare,  and 
as  the  god  says  '  I  depart,'  announces  his  actual  departure 
by  violently  flinging  himself  down  on  the  mat,  or  by  suddenly 
striking  the  ground  with  a  club,  when  those  at  a  distance  are 
informed  by  blasts  on  the  conch,  or  the  firing  of  a  musket, 
that  the  deity  has  returned  into  the  world  of  spirits."  x 

Sometimes  temporary  incarnation  or  inspiration  by  a 
divine  spirit  is  supposed  to  be  produced  by  a  draught  of  blood. 
Thus  in  the  Mandaya  tribe  of  the  Davao  district  on  Min- 
danao, one  of  the  Philippine  Islands,  there  is  in  each  com- 
munity one  or  more  persons,  generally  women,  who  are 
known  as  ballyan.  These  priestesses  or  mediums  are  versed 
in  all  the  ceremonies  and  dances  which  their  ancestors  have 
found  effectual  in  overcoming  evil  influences,  and  in  retaining 
the  favour  of  the  spirits.  When  the  women  are  about  to 
give  an  oracle  they  place  the  images  of  the  gods,  made  of  a 
certain  kind  of  wood,  upon  a  small  altar.  A  hog  is  brought. 
The  chief  priestess  kills  it  with  a  dagger,  and  she  and  all  the 
other  women  drink  of  the  flowing  blood,  in  order  to  attract 

1  T.  Williams,  Fiji  and  the  Fijians  Islands  of  the  Western  Pacific  (London, 
(London,  1860),  pp.  224  sq.  Cf.  J.  E.  1853),  p.  250,  and  L.  Fison,  Tales  of 
Erskme,  Journal  of  a  Cruise  among  the  'Old  Fiji  (London,  1904),  pp.  166  sq. 


the  prophetic  spirit  to  themselves,  and  to  give  their  auguries 
or  the  supposed  utterances  of  their  gods.  Scarcely  have 
they  drunk  the  blood  when  they  become  as  though  possessed 
by  an  infernal  spirit  which  agitates  them  and  makes  them 
tremble  as  does  the  person  of  a  body  with  the  ague  or  like 
one  who  shivers  with  the  cold.1  In  the  Mundjhulas,  a  sub- 
division of  the  Gandmhali  tribe  in  the  Central  Provinces  in 
India  there  are  certain  devotees  of  the  goddess  Somlai  in 
Sambalpur,  on  whom  the  inspiration  of  the  goddess  descends, 
making  them  shake  and  roll  their  heads.  When  they  are  in 
this  state  they  are  believed  to  drink  the  blood  flowing  from 
goats  sacrificed  in  the  temple.2 

Sometimes  the  animal  sacrificed  to  a  deity  is  thought  to 
show  signs  that  the  deity  has  accepted  the  sacrifice  by  bodily 
movements  of  shaking  or  quivering  which  resemble,  though 
on  a  smaller  scale,  the  convulsive  movements  of  the  inspired 
priest  himself.  Thus  among  the  Cheremiss  of  Russia  they 
take  the  destined  victim  to  the  sacred  wood  and  there  pour 
water  over  the  animal's  back,  praying  "  Great  God,  accept 
this  animal  which  we  present  to  you  :  it  is  for  you  :  preserve 
it  from  the  touch  of  human  hand  and  from  all  defilement. 
Accept  it  in  good  grace,  with  our  love."  If  the  animal 
trembles  under  the  splash  of  the  cold  water,  it  is  a  sign  that 
the  god  accepts  it ;  but  if  it  remains  impassive  they  repeat 
the  trial  seven  times.  If  after  seven  trials  it  still  remains  im- 
passive they  reject  it  and  take  another  victim.3 

In  Africa  chiefs  and  kings  have  often  claimed  to  be  deities 
incarnate  in  their  own  person.  Thus,  for  example,  the  Basango 
of  the  Zambesi  "  consider  their  chief  as  a  deity,  and  fear  to 
say  aught  wrong  lest  he  should  hear  them  :  they  fear  both 
before  him  and  when  out  of  sight.4  In  Urua,  a  country  in 
the  valley  of  the  Lomami,  a  southern  tributary  of  the  Congo, 
"  Kasongo,  or  the  chief  for  the  time  being,  arrogates  to  him- 
self divine  honours  and  power,  and  pretends  to  abstain  from 
food  for  days  without  feeling  its  necessity ;  and  indeed 

1  Fay-Cooper     Cole,     The     Wild      Populations  finnoises  des  bassins  de 
Tribes  of  the  Davao  District,  Mtn-      la  Volga  et  de  la  Kama  (Paris,  1898), 

danao,  pp.  174  *£•  P-  J7S' 

*  R.  V.  Russell,  Tribes  and  Castes 
of  the  Central  Provinces,  iii.  1 8.  *  D.    Livingstone,    Last  Journals, 

1  J.  N.  Smirnov  and  P.  Boyer,  Les  ii.  77. 


declares  that  as  a  god  he  is  altogether  above  requiring  food, 
and  only  eats,  drinks,  and  smokes  for  the  pleasure  it  affords 
him."  l  The  Bambala,  a  tribo  of  the  Bushongo  nation  to  the 
south  of  the  Congo,  have  a  king  whom  they  regard  as  a  god 
on  earth,  all-powerful  to  maintain  the  prosperity  of  the  country 
and  people.  On  this  subject  the  late  eminent  ethnographer, 
E.  Torday,  who  discovered  this  divine  king,  writes  as  follows  : 
"  My  long  conversations  with  them  made  the  political  situa- 
tion clearer  than  it  had  seemed  at  first.  Its  intricacy  had  its 
source  in  the  dual  position  of  the  Nyimi  (king)  as  temporal 
and  spiritual  chief.  As  the  Prime  Minister  explained  to  me, 
to  such  people  as  the  Bengongo  and  the  Bangendi,  the  Nyirni 
was  the  King,  the  political  chief  of  the  country  ;  if  they 
rebelled,  theirs  was  a  political  crime.  But  to  the  Bambala, 
the  ruling  tribe,  he  was  also  the  head  of  the  clan,  the  spiritual 
chief,  the  living  representative  of  the  founder,  and,  as  such, 
sacred.  Hence  their  frenzied  jealousy  of  his  honour  ;  an 
insult  to  him  was  an  insult  to  all  the  members  of  the  clan, 
dead,  living,  and  not  yet  born.  They  wanted  him  to  defend 
this,  their  honour,  at  the  risk  of  his  life,  at  the  risk  of  the 
nation's  existence.  Nothing  mattered  so  long  as  honour 
was  satisfied.  There  was  not  one  amongst  them  who  would 
not  have  freely  given  his  life  to  save  the  head  of  the  clan  the 
slightest  humiliation  ;  as  Chembe  Kunji  (god  on  earth)  they 
loved  him  tenderly  and  resented  the  fact  that  he  would  not 
allow  them  to  die  for  him.  ...  In  his  own  clan  his  position 
is  really  a  more  exalted  one  than  that  of  the  Mikado  of  Japan, 
for  while  in  the  latter  country  only  part  of  the  population 
professes  the  Shinto  religion,  the  Bambala  are  all  ancestor 
worshippers,  and  the  Nyimi  (king)  is  the  living  link  that 
alone  can  join  them  through  the  chain  of  his  one  hundred  and 
twenty  predecessors  to  Bumba,  the  founder.  The  spirit  of 
Bumba  lives  in  every  one  of  them  ;  it  is  the  life  of  the  living, 
the  memory  of  the  dead,  the  hope  of  future  generations.  It 
is  his  spirit  that  makes  the  moon  wane  and  increase,  that  makes 
the  sun  shine  ;  it  is  his  spirit  that  in  the  shape  of  rain  quenches 
the  thirst  of  the  soil  after  the  months  of  drought ;  it  is  his 
spirit  that  makes  the  seeds  germinate  and  presides  over  the 
reproduction  of  all  that  lives.  This  spirit  is  incarnated  in 

*  V.  L.  Cameron,  Across  Africa  (London,  1877),  ii,  68. 

IV  INC  A  RNA  TE  HUM  A  N  GODS  1 19 

the  Chembe  Kunji  (god  on  earth)  and  Kwete  (the  king)  is 
Chembe  Kunji  ;  any  weakening  of  his  power,  every  affront 
to  his  dignity  sends  a  tremor  through  all  and  everything  that 
shares  his  spirit  and  pushes  it  towards  the  abyss  of  annihila- 

Among  the  Barundi,  a  tribe  of  Ruanda  to  the  west  of  Lake 
Victoria  Nyanza,each  of  the  gods  has  his  own  form  of  worship 
and  his  own  priest  or  priestess,  whom  he  possesses,  and  by 
whose  mouth  he  gives  oracles.  The  priesthood  is  generally 
hereditary.  The  High  Priest  Kiranga  bears  the  name  as 
the  living  representative  and  seat  of  the  great  god  Kiranga. 
There  are  various  ways  in  which  a  man  or  woman  may  become 
Kiranga,  for  example  by  being  struck,  though  not  killed, 
by  lightning,  the  sign  of  the  god's  power.  In  Ruanda  the 
inspired  mediums  are  called  Imandwa  ;  they  may  be  men  or 
women.  Their  ecstatic  state  is  brought  on  by  copious  draughts 
of  beer,  and  in  it  they  are  not  responsible  for  their  actions, 
while  their  words  are  received  as  oracular  utterances  of  the 
indwelling  deity.2 

Among  the  Basoga  of  Uganda  a  remarkable  case  of  the 
infant  incarnation  of  a  great  god  has  been  recorded  by 
Canon  Roscoe  as  follows  :  "  Mukama  is  the  great  creator 
who  made  man  and  beast.  At  one  period  he  is  said  to  have 
lived  in  a  deep  hole  on  Mount  Elgon,  where,  with  his  sons,  he 
worked  iron  and  forged  all  the  hoes  which  were  introduced 
into  the  land.  He  is  also  the  creator  of  all  rivers,  which  are 
said  to  have  their  source  at  his  home.  Should  a  child  be 
born  with  teeth  already  cut,  it  is  said  to  be  an  incarnation  of 
Mukama  ;  a  hut  is  built  for  the  child  and  a  high  fence  built 
around  it,  and  the  mother  with  her  infant  is  placed  there  during 
her  seclusion.  When  this  period  ends  the  child  is  shown  to 
relatives  and  friends.  A  vessel  of  water  is  brought  from  Lake 
Kyoga  and  also  a  reed  from  the  papyrus-grass  by  the  husband's 
sister's  son,  who  has  to  go  secretly  to  the  lake  ;  he  must  not 
be  seen  by  any  person,  neither  as  he  goes  nor  as  he  returns. 
He  takes  with  him  four  water-berries,  which  he  offers  to  the 
spirit  of  the  lake,  as  he  draws  the  water.  Two  houses  are 

1  E.  Torday,  On  the  Trail  of  the      Chembe  Kunji  see  pp.  113-115. 
Bushongo  (London,  1925),  pp.  177  sq^          *  H.  Meyer,  Die  Barundi  (Leipzig, 
and  for  an  explanation  of  the  title       1916),  p.  123. 

120  INC  A  RNA  TE  HUM  A  N  GODS  CHAP, 

built  for  the  reception  of  the  child  when  the  period  of  seclusion 
ends  ;  one  is  intended  for  a  sleeping-house  and  the  other  for 
a  living-house.     The  mother  with  her  child  is  conducted  to 
this  new  home  with  great  ceremony.     In  front  walks  the 
sister's  son,  carrying  the  papyrus-reed  as  a  spear,  and  behind 
him  follow   a   number   of  medicine-men.     Next   comes   a 
woman  carrying  a  native  iron  hoe  which  she  brandishes  as 
she  walks.     She  utters  a  shrill  cry  as  women  do  when  in 
danger,  in  order  to  warn  people  of  their  approach.     Behind 
this  woman  come  members  of  the  parents'  clan,  and,  last 
of  all,  the  parents  with  the  child.     The  mother  is  escorted 
into  the  living-room,  where  a  sacred  meal  is  eaten,  and  after 
the  meal  the  child  is  brought  out  and  has  its  head  shaved,  the 
water  brought  from  the  lake  being  used  to  wet  the  head  for 
shaving  and  to  wash  it  after  the  shaving  has  taken  place. 
After  the  ceremony  of  shaving  is  ended  the  father  gives  his 
shield  to  the  child.     The  company  remain  three  days  with 
the  mother  and  her  child.     On  the  third  day  the  papyrus- 
reed  is  handed  to  the  child,  who  is  appointed  governor  over 
a  portion  of  land.     The  mother  remains  with  her  child,  her 
husband  giving  her  up  to  this  duty,  and  her  clan  presents 
him  with  another  wife  instead  of  the  mother  of  Mukama. 
The  child  is  now  regarded  as  a  god,  and  people  come  to  him 
to  make  requests  for  any  purpose.    When  he  dies  a  medium 
is  appointed  to  hold  converse  with  him  and  to  give  his  replies 
to  suppliants/'1 

Among  the  Gouraghes,  a  tribe  of  Abyssinia,  the  King  of 
the  Sorcerers  is  called  Yoe  Demam.  His  function  is  heredi- 
tary. He  wears  a  silver  ring  on  his  ankle  as  a  token  of  his 
dignity.  He  does  not  cut  his  hair  nor  beard,  and  all  who 
approach  him  kiss  the  earth  before  him.  He  never  enters  a 
house,  and  if  a  storm  overtakes  him  on  a  journey  he  is  content 
to  seek  shelter  under  a  tree.  He  is  considered  as  a  god.  His 
habitual  residence  is  in  the  forest,  where  people  come  to 
worship  him,2 

In  antiquity  the  kings  of  Mauretania  in  North  Africa 
were  worshipped  as  gods.  This  is  mentioned  by  the  African 

1  J.  Roscoe,  The  Northern  Bantu,      pays   Gouraghe,"  in   fiwue  tPethno- 
pp.  248  sg.  graphic  et  (Us  traditions 

1  R.  P.  Azais,  "  Lc  Paganisme  en      vii.  (1926)  p.  2$, 

IV  INC  A  RNA  TE  HUM  A  N  GODS  121 

church  father,  Tertullian,  whose  evidence  on  the  subject  is 
confirmed  by  inscriptions.1  On  this  topic  my  learned  friend 
M.  J.  Toutain  writes  as  follows  :  "  The  fathers  of  the  African 
church,  and  the  Christian  writers  of  Africa  have  affirmed 
repeatedly  that  the  inhabitants  of  Mauretania  worshipped 
their  kings.  This  statement  is  justified  by  several  inscrip- 
tions, which  prove  that  the  affirmation  is  perfectly  exact  not 
only  for  Mauretania,  but  also  for  Numidia.  The  worship  of 
the  kings  of  Numidia  and  Mauretania  was  continued  under 
the  Roman  Empire  :  this  late  survival  of  the  worship  is  a 
proof  of  the  tolerance  of  the  Roman  governors  of  Africa. 
From  a  bilingual  inscription  in  Punic  and  Berber  we  learn 
that  there  was  a  sanctuary  of  King  Masinissa  at  Thugga.  It 
was  without  doubt  in  honour  of  the  same  god  that  the  stele 
or  tablet  was  engraved  which  was  found  at  Abizar,  in  the 
Great  Kabyle,  on  which  were  the  words  TABLA  DEO 
MASIN.  .  .  .  Among  the  successors  of  Masinissa,  Gulussa, 
and  Hiemsal  were  also  invoked  by  the  Africans  during  the 
first  centuries  of  the  Christian  era.  The  kings  of  Maure- 
tania, Juba  II  and  Ptolemy,  received,  during  the  same  epoch, 
divine  honours.  It  is  true  that  the  inscription  of  Caesarea, 
upon  which  the  name  of  the  last  king  occurs,  is  formulated 
in  the  Latin  manner  :  Genio  regis  Ptohmaei ;  but  in  this 
formula  we  must  trace  the  influence  of  Rome  on  a  wor- 
ship which  in  Africa  was  much  older  than  the  Roman 
conquest."  2 

In  Southern  Nigeria,  "  throughout  the  land,  as  a  general 
rule,  the  king  combines  magico-religious  with  civil  duties, 
acts  as  the  representative  or  priest  of  the  town  or  clan  in  all 
dealings  with  gods,  jujus,  and  ancestors,  and  regulates  all 
religious  ceremonies.  He  is  often  regarded  as  semi-divine, 
endowed  with  the  spirit  of  his  ancestors  or  the  ancestral  god, 
is  confined  to  his  house  on  special  occasions — chiefly,  no 
doubt,  so  that  the  sanctity  in  which  he  lives  should  not  be 
violated — and  the  prosperity  of  the  countryside  and  the  fer- 
tility of  crops,  animals,  and  men  are  thought  to  be  linked 
with  his  well-being  and  his  performance  of  the  proper  magical 
and  other  rites.  The  power  of  bringing  rain  is  often  attri- 

1  Tertullian,  Apologeticu^  cap.  24.        V Empire   remain,  iii.    (Paris,    1920) 
*  J.  Toutain,  Les  Cultes  patens  dans      p.  39. 


buted  to  these  chiefs/' x    Among  the  Edo  of  Southern  Nigeria 

the  king  of  Benin  was  worshipped  as  an  incarnate  deity.     On 

this  subject  the  Englishman,  J.  Adams,  who  travelled  in 

West  Africa  from  1786  to  1800,  tells  us  that,  "  The  king  of 

Benin  is  fetiche,  and  the  principal  object  of  adoration  in  his 

dominions.     He  occupies  a  higher  post  here  than  the  Pope 

does  in  Catholic  Europe,  for  he  is  not  only  God's  viceregent 

upon  earth,  but  a  god  himself,  whose  subjects  both  obey  and 

adore  him  as  such."  2    Again  among  the  I  bo  of  Southern 

Nigeria,  many  of  the  kings  were  never  allowed  to  leave  their 

houses  and  were  regarded  as  semi-divine.3 

The  Malay  kings  are  believed  to  be  an  incarnation  of 
the  Hindu  god  Shiva,  and  as  such  to  possess  the  right  of  life 
and  death,  not  only  over  all  their  subjects,  but  over  all  living 
creatures.4  In  Central  Celebes  divinity  was  ascribed  to 
the  Sultan  (Datoe)  of  Loovoo.8 

Among  pretenders  to  divinity  in  Christian  England  was 
James  Naylor,  a  Quaker,  in  the  time  of  the  Protectorate. 
Of  him  the  historian  Hume  gives  the  following  account: 
"  James  Naylor  was  a  quaker  noted  for  blasphemy,  or  rather 
madness,  in  the  time  of  the  protectorship.     He  fancied  that 
he  himself  was  transformed  into  Christ,  and  was  become  the 
real  saviour  of  the  world  ;   and  in  consequence  of  this  frenzy 
he  endeavoured  to  imitate  many  actions  of  the  Messiah  related 
in  the  evangelists.    As  he  bore  a  resemblance  to  the  common 
pictures  of  Christ,  he  allowed  his  beard  to  grow  in  a  like  form  ; 
he  raised  a  person  from  the  dead  ;   he  was  ministered  unto 
by  women  ;  he  entered  Bristol  mounted  on  a  horse,  I  suppose 
from  the  difficulty  in  that  place  of  finding  an  ass  ;  his  disciples 
spread  their  garments  before  him  and  cried, '  Hosannah  to  the 
highest ;  holy,  holy,  is  the  Lord  God  of  Sabbaoth.'    When 
carried  before  the  magistrate  he  would  give  no  other  answer 
to  all  questions  than  '  Thou  hast  said  it/    What  is  remark- 
able, the  parliament  thought  that  the  matter  deserved  their 
attention.     Near  ten  days  they  spent  in  inquiries  and  debates 

1  ?.  A.  Talbot,  Peoples  of  Southern  4  H.    Kern,   in   Bijdragen   tot   de 

Nigeria,  iii.  563  sq.  Taal~t    Land-    en    Volkenkunde   van 

*  J.  Adams,  Sketches  taken  during  Nederlandsch-lndie,  Ixvii.  (191:3)  pp. 

Ten     Voyages    to    Africa    (London,  367  $q. 

N  D.),  p.  29.  *  Adriani   and   Kruijt,   op.  cit»  I. 

1  Talbot,  op.  fit.  iii,  592,  130 


about  him.  They  condemned  him  to  be  pilloried,  whipped, 
burned  in  the  face,  and  to  have  his  tongue  bored  through 
with  a  red-hot  iron.  All  these  severities  he  bore  with  the 
usual  patience.  So  far  his  delusion  supported  him.  But 
the  sequel  spoiled  all.  He  was  sent  to  Bridewell,  confined  to 
hard  labour,  fed  on  bread  and  water,  and  debarred  from  all  his 
disciples,  male  and  female.  His  illusion  dissipated,  and  after 
some  time  he  was  contented  to  come  out  an  ordinary  inan, 
and  to  return  to  his  usual  occupations."  l  With  reference 
to  the  Albigenses  Mr.  E.  G.  A.  Holmes  of  3  Abbey  Road, 
Whitby,  Yorks,  wrote  to  me,  on  1 8th  October,  1924,  strongly 
denying  the  charge  of  mutual  worship  brought  by  the  Catholic 
Church  against  the  Albigenses  or  rather  Catharists.  He 
refers  me  to  Schmidt's  "  monumental  work  "  on  the  subject. 
The  reference  seems  to  be  to  Charles  Schmidt,  Histoire  et 
Doctrine  de$  Cathares  ou  Albigeios  (2  vols.  Paris,  1848-49). 
With  regard  to  the  divinity  of  the  early  Babylonian  kings 
we  are  told  that  according  to  contemporary  evidence  each  of 
the  first  five  kings  of  the  third  dynasty  of  Ur  was  honoured 
as  a  divinity  during  the  years  of  that  dynasty.  That  con- 
temporary evidence  is  found  on  the  cuneiform  tablets  from 
Lagash,  Umma,  Ur,  Drehem,  and  Nippur.2 

1  D.  Hume,  History  of  England^      Cult  of  Kings  of  the  Third  Dynasty  of 
vii.  336-337.  Ur,"  in  Bulletin  of  the  John  Rylands 

1  T.    Fish,    "  The    Contemporary      Library^  vol.  12  (1928),  p.  75  sq. 



SOMETIMES  the  magician  professes  to  control,  not  the  whole 
range  of  Nature,  but  some  one  particular  department  of  it, 
such  as  water  or  fire,  of  which  he  proclaims  himself  the  king. 
Among  the  Kororofawa,  a  tribe  of  Northern  Nigeria,  one 
such  magician   bears   the  title   of  King-of-the-Water,     In 
seasons  of  drought  the  chief  priest  (Akondu)  calls  the  King- 
of-the-Water,  who  asks  for  his  appropriate  dedicatory  offer- 
ings.    These  are  a  dog,  a  goat,  a  cow  with  a  calf,  and  a  hen 
with  an  egg.    Then  millet  is  brought  from  the  king's  house 
and  presented  to  the  King-of-the- Water,  and  the  King-of-the- 
Water  goes  to  his  place  of  sacrifice  near  the  water  and  remains 
there  seven  days.     He  then  comes  back  and  plants  some  of 
the  corn  and  tells  the  people  when  rain  will  come.    The 
King-of-the-Water  has  a  sacred  enclosure  near  a  spring, 
which  is  surrounded  by  a  wall  and  thus  kept  holy.    There 
is  a  door  in  the  wall.     Inside  this  enclosure  are  three  sacred 
trees,  one  called  noji,  another  called  mariki^  and  a  third 
called  gieya.    They  are  close  together,  and  a  circular  pit  is 
dug  in  front  of  them.     Each  tree  has  two  miniature  huts  built 
at  its  foot.    A  grass  called  kalawali,  which  appears  to  be 
a  species  of  hemp,  is  planted  within  the  enclosure,  and  grows 
to  a  good  height.     If  a  woman  comes  near  this  particular 
spring  it  turns  to  blood.     If  a  man  shaves  his  head  and  leaves 
the  shavings  on  the  ground,  next  morning  his  hair  is  seen  in 
the  pool.    The  only  persons  who  are  allowed  to  enter  this 
enclosure  are  the  King-of-the-Water  and  the  one  assistant 
that  he  has.    The  King-of-the-Water  has  not  only  power  over 

1  Cf.  The  Magic  Art  and  the  Evolution  of  Kings>  ii  1-6. 



the  water,  but  over  the  animals  in  the  water,  such  as  croco- 
diles, and  to  him  is  due  the  first  boat  that  was  ever  made. 
He  forbids  a  black  pot,  or  decorated  calabash,  or  decorated 
water-gourd  to  be  brought  near  his  enclosure.  If  the  King- 
of-the-Water  wishes,  then  water  destroys  the  town.  The 
title  of  the  King-of-the-Water  is  Kuzafi.  It  is  said  that,  as  a 
general  rule,  the  King-of-the-Water  and  the  high  priest  work 
very  well  together.  There  are  sacred  creatures  in  the  pool 
within  the  enclosure.  They  are  freshwater  crabs.  One  of 
these  is  sometimes  taken  to  people's  houses  for  magical 
purposes.  It  is  stated  that  one  use  to  which  it  is  put  is  as 
follows  :  A  basin  is  taken  and  this  freshwater  crab  is  put 
underneath  it  on  the  ground.  The  next  day,  on  lifting  up  the 
basin,  it  will  be  found  that  the  crab  has  gone  underground. 
Then  a  bitter  herb  is  taken,  and  certain  roots.  Four  round 
posts  are  put  up  round  the  pool  and  a  sort  of  miniature  fence 
is  made  by  twining  the  leaves  between  the  posts  ;  a  small 
door  is  left.  The  whole  thing  is  covered  with  a  white  cloth. 
Having  done  this,  the  person  who  is  performing  the  magical 
ceremony  says,  "  I  wish  to  know  whether  I  shall  get  my  desire 
or  not."  He  then  goes  away  and  in  the  morning  he  will  see 
that  if  the  crab  is  propitious  he  has  swept  the  place  clean. 
If  it  is  desired  by  means  of  this  ceremony  to  kill  a  person, 
four  straws  are  taken,  and  one  of  them,  representing  the 
enemy,  is  set  upright,  and  the  other  three,  the  man  himself, 
his  wife,  and  his  son,  are  put  lying  down.  Then  the  three  are 
taken  away,  and  the  crab  comes  and  takes  the  other  into  his 
hole.  The  enemy  is  thus  disposed  of.1 

The  once  famous  magicians,  the  King  of  Fire  and  the  King 
of  Water  in  Cambodia,  whose  reputation  extended  all  over 
Indo- China,  now  exist  in  little  more  than  name  ;  their  power 
and  their  fame  are  gone.  The  death-blow  to  their  pretensions 
was  given  by  a  French  punitive  expedition  sent  against  the 
King  of  Fire  to  avenge  the  assassination  of  the  administrator 
Odend'hal  in  April  1904-  Their  old  glory  is  now  only  a 

1  H.   R  Palmer,  "  Notes  on  the       1912)  p.  412- 
Kororofawa  and  Jukon,"  in  Journal          »  H. 
of  the   African    Society,   xi.    (1911-       IW).  P- 



THE  worship  of  trees  is  very  widespread  among  the  tribes  of 
French  or  West  Sudan.    Thus,  for  example,  among  the  Bobo, 
at  the  time  of  sowing,  the  chief  of  the  village  offers  sacrifices 
in  the  field  to  any  large  trees  that  happen  to  be  there.     Each 
of  these  trees  represents  at  once  the  Earth  and  the  Forest,  two 
great  and  powerful  divinities  which  in  the  mind  of  the  negro 
form  a  single  great  divinity.     Thus  the  sacrifice  is  offered  at 
the  same  time  to  the  Earth  and  the  Forest  that  they  may  be 
favourable  to  the  sowing-     The  victim  sacrificed  on  these 
occasions  is  a  hen,  or  several  hens.     But  these  are  not  the  only 
sacrifices  offered  by  the  Bobos  to  trees.     At  Kabourou  there 
is  a  chief  who  owns  a  sacred  tree,  a  wild  fig.     He  alone  has 
the  right  of  making  sacrifices  to  it.     If  another  person  wishes 
to  make  a  sacrifice  to  it  he  can  only  do  so  by  leave  obtained 
from  the  chief.    At  Tone  there  are  five  large  sacred  trees  in 
the  village  itself.    After  the  harvest  the  chiefs  of  the  village 
offer  sacrifices  to  these  trees,  representing  the  Earth  and  the 
Forest,  as  a  thank-offering  for  giving  much  millet,  and  for 
having  warded  off  diseases,  and  so  on.     They  offer  hens  to 
them.     But  contrary  to  the  custom  of  many  other  tribes,  the 
Bobos   have  no   sacred   woods   or  thickets.1    Among  the 
Menkieras,  another  tribe  of  the  French  Sudan,  some  people, 
but  not  all,  offer  sacrifices  to  trees.    At  Zinou  and  Bono  the 
trees  to  which  sacrifices  are  made  are  the  sounsoun,  cailcedrats^ 
karites,  and  tamarinds,  in  which  the  spirit  of  the  Forest  is 
believed  to  reside.2    On  the  day  after  a  copious  shower  of  rain 

1  L.  Tauxier,  te  Noir  du  Soudan          *  L.  Tauxier,  op.  cH.  pp.  104  $q+ 
(Paris,  191 2),  pp.  70^.  *         ™       *   * 



has  fallen  among  the  Nounoumas,  another  tribe  of  the  French 
Sudan,  the  chief  of  the  village  takes  a  hen  into  his  field.  If 
there  is  in  the  field  a  tamarind,  a  karite>  or  a  cailcedrat,  he 
pours  the  blood  of  the  fowl  over  the  tree.  But  if  there  is  no 
such  tree  he  pours  the  blood  of  the  fowl  upon  the  earth.  The 
sacrifice  is  offered  to  the  Earth  and  the  Forest  to  procure  a 
good  crop.  They  also  invoke  the  Good  God  or  Heaven.  In 
the  mind  of  the  negro  the  tree  is,  firstly,  a  child  of  the  earth, 
since  the  Earth  bears  it  upon  its  breast,  and  secondly  a  repre- 
sentative of  the  Forest,  since  the  forest  is  formed  of  grass, 
plants,  and  trees.  Thus  to  offer  a  sacrifice  to  a  tree  is  at  the 
same  time  to  offer  it  to  the  Earth  and  the  Forest,  the  two  great 
divinities  of  productivity.  That  is  why,  when  there  is  a  tree 
in  the  field,  they  pour  the  blood  of  the  hen  upon  it.  Three 
divinities  are  thus  honoured  by  this  sacrifice  :  the  inferior 
divinity  of  the  tree  itself,  and  the  more  powerful  divinities  of 
the  Earth  and  the  Forest,  It  is  needless  to  explain  why  at 
time  of  sowing  sacrifices  are  offered  to  the  two  latter  divinities: 
it  is  the  Earth  which  controls  the  growth  of  the  grain,  it  is  the 
Forest  which  is  the  divinity  of  vegetation  in  general.1  The 
Kassounas-Fras,  another  tribe  of  the  French  Sudan,  also  offer 
sacrifices  to  trees.  They  have  sacred  trees,  either  at  the  gate 
of  the  village,  or  in  the  fields.  Each  of  these  sacred  trees  has 
its  master,  whose  leave  must  be  obtained  by  any  person  who 
wishes  to  sacrifice  to  the  trees.  They  offer  sacrifices  every 
time  that  the  diviner  bids  them  do  so.  The  sacrifice  consists 
of  a  hen,  millet-meal,  and  sometimes  a  small  pebble.  The 
Kassounas-Fras  have  also  sacred  woods.  It  is  the  Chief  of 
the  Earth,  assisted  by  the  elders  of  the  village,  who  offers 
sacrifices  to  the  sacred  wood  each  time  that  the  diviner  tells 
him  to  do  so.  The  sacrifice  offered  to  the  Sacred  Wood  is 
also  offered  to  the  Earth,  of  which  the  Sacred  Wood  is  the 
child.  In  these  sacred  woods  there  are  small  heaps  of  stones 
at  which  these  sacrifices  are  offered.  At  present  one  may 
walk  in  the  sacred  woods.  Formerly  it  was  severely 
prohibited  to  do  so.  But  on  no  account  may  one  cut  wood 

The  Nankanas,  another  tribe  of  the  French  Sudan,  sacri- 
fice to  sacred  trees,  which  may  be  at  the  gate  of  the  village,  or 

1  L.  Tauxier,  op.  cit.  pp.  190  sg.  *  L.  Tauxier,  op.  cit.  p.  237. 


in  the  fields,  or  in  the  forest.     The  sacred  trees  comprise 
tamarinds,  wild  fig  trees,  and  various  other  species.    The 
sacrifices  are  offered  at  the  bidding  of  the  priest  or  diviner. 
The  Nankanas  have  also  sacred  woods  or  thickets.     They 
offer  sacrifices  to  them  at  sowing,  at  harvest,  when  rain  does 
not  fall,  and  whenever  the  diviner  orders  them  to  do  so.1  The 
Kassounas   Bouras,    another   tribe   of  the   French   Sudan, 
similarly  offer  sacrifices  to  the  trees  of  the  field,  of  the  forest, 
or  of  the  village.     They  sacrifice  hens  to  the  trees,  or  even 
sheep  and  goats,  whenever  the  diviner  bids  them  do  so.    When 
the  tree  is  in  the  ground  of  a  private  person  it  is  the  owner 
who  offers  the  sacrifice  of  sheep  or  of  goats.     One  who  wishes 
to  sacrifice  to  the  tree  goes  to  the  tree  with  the  owner  of  the 
ground.     The  offerer  and  the  sacrificer  share  the  flesh  of  the 
animal.     But  when  the  offering  is  a  fowl,  the  offerer  is  free  to 
sacrifice  it  himself.     Everyone  offers  sacrifices  to  trees,  but 
above  all  hunters  perform  this  act  of  devotion,  in  order  that 
they  may  have  good  luck  in  hunting.    Again  when  they  clear 
a  patch  in  the  forest,  and  are  forced  to  burn  down  some  trees, 
they  offer  sacrifices  to  the  spirits  of  the  trees,  lest  the  spirits 
should  be  angry  with  them.    The  Kassounas  Bouras  have 
sacred  groves  or  woods,  not  in  every  village  but  in  many.     In 
these  sacred  groves  there  is  generally  a  large  stone  set  at  the 
foot  of  the  tallest  tree.     All  this,  the  grove,  the  tree,  and  the 
stone,  represent  the  Earth,  the  sacred  mother  of  all  things. 
When  the  chief  of  the  village  visits  the  diviner  to  consult  him, 
the  diviner  often  counsels  him  to  offer  in  the  sacred  grove,  to 
the  Earth,  a  certain  sacrifice  of  a  sheep  or  ox.    The  chief  of 
the  village  gives  to  the  Chief  of  the  Earth  an  ox  or  a  sheep, 
taken  either  from  his  own  herds  or  from  the  herds  of  others. 
The  Chief  of  the  Earth  then  goes  to  the  sacred  grove  to  offer 
the  sacrifice  in  the  presence  of  the  chief  of  the  village  and  the 
elders.    The  flesh  of  the  animal  is  for  the  Chief  of  the  Earth 
and  the  elders.     The  chief  of  the  village  does  not  partake  of 
it  nor  does  the  diviner.     Private  individuals  may  not  them- 
selves sacrifice  in  the  sacred  grove.    They  give  that  which 
they  wish  to  sacrifice  to  the  Chief  of  the  Earth,  who  sacri- 
fices it  for  them.     It  is,  above  all,  the  Chief  of  the  Earth  who 
eats  the  flesh  of  the  victims  offered  in  the  sacred  grove. 

1  L.  Tauxier,  op.  tit<  p.  271. 


M.  Tauxier  reports  a  recent  case  of  a  childless  chief,  who  en- 
gaged the  Chief  of  the  Earth  to  offer  sacrifice  for  him  in  the 
sacred  grove.  The  sacrifice  was  effectual,  for  the  next  year 
four  of  the  chief's  wives  were  with  child.1 

The  Mossi,  another  tribe  of  the  French  Sudan  within  the 
bend  of  the  Niger,  worship  certain  species  of  trees,  including 
the  tamarind  and  the  baobab,  as  sources  of  fertility  both  human 
and  vegetable*  They  sacrifice  to  the  trees  with  prayers  for 
children,  and  if  the  prayer  is  answered  the  chilfl  is  given  the 
name  of  the  tree.  They  are  said  sometimes  to  hang  articles 
of  clothing  on  trees  for  the  purpose  of  obtaining  a  good  crop, 
but  the  custom  seems  to  be  rare,  for  M.  Tauxier,  who  reports 
it,  has  not  himself  met  with  any  instance  ;  but  he  adds  that 
among  the  Malinkee  of  Upper  Guinea  a  traveller  may  notice 
at  every  turn  little  baskets  of  offerings  hung  on  trees  or  shrubs.2 
The  Koulango,  another  tribe  of  the  same  region,  also  sacrifice 
to  certain  species  of  trees,  including  the  baobab  but  not  the 
oil  palm-  Such  sacrifices  are  always  offered  at  the  bidding  of 
diviners,  for  example,  when  a  person  is  ill,  that  the  tree  may 
afford  him  healing.  They  also  offer  to  the  trees,  always  by 
order  of  the  diviner,  clothing,  cowries,  eggs,  and  so  forth,  and 
very  rarely  a  little  silver  or  a  little  gold.  The  Koulangos  who 
pass  never  touch  these  offerings,  for  they  fear  the  vengeance 
of  the  tree.  Almost  every  village  possesses  a  guardian  tree, 
a  custom  general  in  the  Sudan.  Each  one  makes  offerings  to 
it,  according  to  his  circumstances,  always  after  consultation 
with  the  diviner  and  according  to  his  directions.8 

Among  the  Ibibios  of  Southern  Nigeria,  when  a  man  is  in 
trouble  he  will  sometimes  go  to  a  giant  .tree  in  the  forest,  and, 
standing  at  the  foot  of  it,  will,  with  outstretched  hands,  pray 
to  the  tree  to  the  following  effect  :  "  You,  O  Tree,  are  a  big 
man,  and  heavy  things  seem  but  light  to  you.  I  am  but  a 
small  being,  poor  and  weak,  and  my  trouble  is  too  great  for 
me  to  bear.  Will  not  you,  therefore,  who  are  so  strong,  take 
it  from  me  ?  Since,  to  your  strength,  it  would  be  as 
nothing."  Then  after  sacrificing  to  the  tree,  the  suppliant 
goes  away  in  peace,  convinced  that  the  burden  of  his  sorrow 

1  L.  Tauxier,  op.  tit.  p.  324.  *  L.  Tauxier,  Le  Noir  de  Bondou* 

*  L.  Tauxier,  Le  Noir  du  Yatenga      kou  (Paris,  1921),  p.  174. 
(Paris,  1907),  p.  374. 


will  be  lifted  from  him.1     Near  Ube,  in  Southern  Nigeria, 

there  is  a  very  tall  tree,  which  is  thought  to  be  inhabited  by 

a  spirit  called  Ebiribong.     At  the  time  of  planting  the  new 

yams  a  great  play  is  held  at  the  foot  of  the  tree  in  honour  of 

the  spirit  and  a  he-goat  is  sacrificed  to  him,a     In  the  land  of 

the  Ibibios,  when  the  palm-trees  did  not  bear  fruit,  or  bore  it 

only  in  insufficient  quantity,  the  people  used  to  be  ordered  to 

search  the  countryside  until  a  leper  was  found  with  face  eaten 

away  with  the  ravages  of  the  disease.     Him  they  dragged  to 

the  nearest  palm  grove  and  bound  by  the  waist  and  throat  to 

the  tallest  tree,  his  arms  tied  round  the  trunk  as  though 

clasping  it.     Through  both  feet  were  driven  long  hooked 

pegs,  sharply  pointed,  which  pinned  the  victim  to  the  ground. 

There  he  was  doomed  to  stay,  suffering  intolerable  agonies 

from  wounds,  hunger,  and  thirst,  in  the  glare  of  a  tropical  sun, 

until  death  released  him  from  his  sufferings.     The  bodies  of 

such  victims  were  never  buried,  but  were  left  to  decay  on  the 

spot.     The  natives  averred  that  after  this  sacrifice  there  was 

no  dearth  of  fruit,  for  the  Spirits  of  the  Palms,  pleased  with 

the  offering,  sent  forth  their  rich,  orange-hued  clusters  in  such 

profusion  that "  over  the  whole  grove  men  cut  till  they  were 

tired.11  3 

In  Bengal  the  most  sacred  of  all  trees  is  the  Pipal  (Ficus 
religiose?)*  It  is  said  that  the  trunk  is  the  habitation  of 
Brahma,  the  twigs  of  Shiva,  and  the  leaves  of  the  other  gods. 
It  is  known  as  Basudeva  and  water  is  poured  at  its  foot  after 
the  morning  bath,  especially  in  the  month  of  Baisak  and  when 
people  are  in  difficulties.  It  is  considered  very  meritorious 
to  plant  these  trees  by  the  wayside  and  to  consecrate  them. 
The  Bel  (Aegle  Marmelos)  is  the  sacred  tree  of  Shiva ;  its 
leaves  are  indispensable  in  performing  the  worship  of  Shiva 
and  Sakti,  and  for  this  reason  pious  Hindoos  of  the  Vaish- 
nava  sect  will  not  so  much  as  mention  its  name.  When  the 
tree  dies,  none  but  Brahmans  may  use  its  wood  as  fuel.  It 
is  believed  to  be  a  favourite  tree  with  certain  spirits,  which 
take  up  their  abode  in  it.  The  Karam  tree  (Neuclm  farvi- 
folia)  is  considered  sacred  in  Chota  Nagpur  and  its  festival 
is  held  by  the  Oraons  with  great  rejoicings  at  the  time  of  the 

1  P.  A.  Talbot,  Life  in  Southern          *  P.  A.  Talbot,  op.  cit.  pp.  314  sq» 
Nigeria  (London,  1923),  p.  113.  *  P.  A.  Talbot,  op.  tit.  p*  3. 


harvest  home.  A  branch  of  the  tree  is  fetched  from  the  village 
by  the  young  men  and  women  of  the  village,  to  the  accom- 
paniment of  singing  and  dancing  and  the  beating  of  tom- 
toms. It  is  stuck  in  the  ground  at  some  place  within  the 
village  and  is  decorated  with  lights  and  flowers.  The  people 
join  in  a  general  feast  and,  when  they  have  eaten  and  drunk, 
they  spend  the  night  in  merriment  and  in  dancing  round  the 
branch.  Next  morning  at  dawn  it  is  thrown  into  the  river, 
and  the  spirit  of  evil  is  believed  to  be  expelled  with  it.  The 
aboriginal  immigrants  to  Bogra  from  Chota  Nagpur  pay 
similar  veneration  to  the  plantain  tree  after  reaping  the  aus 
crop.  Goats  and  pigs  are  sacrificed  to  it.  The  bamboo  is 
worshipped  before  weddings,  and  after  the  ceremony  the 
bridal  garland  is  thrown  into  a  bamboo  clump.1 

The  worship  of  trees,  especially  the  Pipal  and  Banyan,  is 
very  popular  in  the  Bombay  Presidency.  The  Pipal,  which 
here,  as  in  Bengal,  is  the  holiest  of  all  trees,  is  said  to  be  the 
incarnation  of  a  Brahman,  and  to  cut  it  is  thought  to  be  as 
great  a  sin  as  to  murder  a  Brahman.  It  is  believed  that  the 
family  of  one  who  cuts  it  becomes  extinct.  Some  people  hold 
that  the  spirits  of  the  dead  do  not  get  water  to  drink  in  the 
next  world.  The  water  poured  at  the  foot  of  the  Pipal  on 
the  1 3th,  1 4th,  and  I5th  day  of  the  dark  half  of  Kartik 
(October-November)  and  Shravan  (July-August)  and  on  the 
1 4th  day  of  the  bright  half  oiChaitra  (March- April)  is  believed 
to  reach  these  spirits  and  quench  their  thirst.  There  is  a  Pipal 
tree  in  the  village  of  Prachi  near  Prabhas  in  Kathiawar,  vows 
in  honour  of  which  are  believed  to  procure  offspring  for  child- 
less persons.  In  the  Deccan  and  Konkan  the  Pipal  tree  is 
held  very  sacred  because  it  is  believed  that  the  god  Brahma 
resides  in  the  roots,  the  god  Vishnu  in  the  trunk,  and  the  god 
Shiva  on  the  top  of  this  tree.  Persons  who  make  a  particular 
vow  or  have  a  special  object  of  which  they  desire  the  fulfilment 
worship  the  Pipal  tree  and  walk  round  it  several  times  every- 
day. The  Banyan  is  worshipped  by  women  on  the  full- 
moon  day  of  the  month  Jyeshth  (May- June)  and  on  the  no- 
moon  day  when  it  falls  on  a  Monday.  On  these  occasions  a 
cotton  thread  is  tied  round  the  tree,  and  offerings  of  glass 

1  £.  A.  Gait,  in  Census  of  India,  191 1,  vol.  vi.  Fart  i.  (Calcutta,  1912), 
pp.  191  sg. 


beads,  coconuts,  fruits,  and  so  on,  are  made.  At  Malad  in 
the  Thana  district  the  Pipal  tree  is  worshipped  daily  by  men 
and  women  of  the  Brahman  caste.  Women  walk  round  this 
tree  for  a  hundred  and  eight  or  more  times  daily.  Some 
persons  hold  a  thread  ceremony  for  the  Pipal  trees  in  order 
to  obtain  a  son,  and  worship  the  tree  for  a  certain  period. 
It  is  worshipped  with  fruit  and  copper  coins.  Wooden 
cradles  are  also  offered  to  the  tree.1 

The  Larka  Kols,  a  primitive  race  of  Chota  Nagpur,  believe 
that  certain  inferior  spirits  or  divinities  haunt  the  trees  in  and 
around  villages,  and  on  no  account  will  they  suffer  the  trees 
to  be  denuded  of  their  branches,  still  less  to  be  cut  down, 
The  English  writer  who  reports  this  tells  us  that  his  own  coolies, 
natives  of  Chota  Nagpur,  were  driven  from  a  grove  where 
they  had  begun  to  cut  wood  by  a  party  of  exasperated  villagers 
who  alleged  that  the  spirits  (Bhongas),  expelled  from  their 
habitation,  would  infallibly  wreak  their  vengeance  upon  the 
villagers  themselves.2 

The  Bhuiyas  are  a  very  important  tribe  in  Chota  Nagpur, 
Orissa,  and  Bengal.  In  the  month  of  Kartik  (October),  or 
the  next  month,  they  bring  from  the  forest  a  branch  of  the 
karma  tree  and  worship  it  and  perform  the  karma  dance  in 
front  of  it.  They  think  that  this  worship  and  dance  will  cause 
the  karma  tree,  the  mango,  the  jack-fruit,  and  the  rnahua  to 
bear  a  full  crop  of  fruit.8 

When  the  Bare'e-speafcing  Toradyas  of  Central  Celebes 
go  down  to  the  seashore  to  make  salt  they  set  up  in  the 
ground  a  sacrificial  stick  with  a  certain  leaf  attached  to  it, 
and  another  stick,  with  betel  attached  to  it,  they  set  up  in  the 
sea*  Further  they  lay  a  boiled  egg  and  rice  in  the  nearest 
tree  as  an  offering  to  the  spirits  of  the  tree.4  When  these  same 
Toradyas  are  out  hunting  and  have  killed  a  wild  pig  they 
make  a  slit  in  the  trunk  of  a  neighbouring  tree,  and  insert  in 
the  slit  a  piece  of  the  pig's  liver,  and  in  doing  so  they  say  to 
the  spirit  of  the  tree,  "  O  thou,  who  hast  had  compassion 
upon  us,  accept  the  liver  of  this,  thy  domestic  animal,  and 

1  R.  E.  Enthoven,  Folk-Lore  of  on  the  Lurka  Coles,"  \&  Journal  of  the 

Bombay,  pp.  117-126,  who  cites  many  Royal  Asiatic  Society,  xviii.  (1861) 

more  instances  of  this  popular  wor-  pp.  372  sq* 

p*  »  R.  V.  Russell,  op.  tit.  11.  318. 

»  W.  Dunbar,  "  Some  Observations  4  Adrian*  and  JCruijt,  op.  cit.  ii.  339. 


eat  it.  We  ask  no  gift  from  thee,  but  grant  that  to-morrow 
and  all  following  days  we  kill  more  pigs,  each  of  them  as 
large  as  yonder  tree.1'  l 

Believing  that  trees  are  inhabited  or  animated  by  spirits, 
or  sylvan  dieties,  primitive  man  feels  naturally  great  scruples 
at  felling  a  tree,  for  by  doing  so  he  renders  the  spirit  homeless, 
and  may  even  inflict  bodily  injury  upon  him  by  the  operation, 
and  he  naturally  fears  the  wrath  of  the  aggrieved  spirit. 
Hence  before  they  fell  trees,  primitive  peoples  are  commonly 
in  the  habit  of  performing  certain  ceremonies  for  the  purpose 
of  appeasing  the  anger  of  the  tree-spirit,  and  inducing  him 
to  pardon  the  wrong  they  are  doing  him. 

Thus  the  Baganda  of  Central  Africa  thought  that  all 
large  trees  were  the  abode  of  spirits,  which  were  friendly 
disposed  unless  a  person  interfered  with  the  tree.  No  one 
ventured  to  fell  a  large  tree  without  first  consulting  one  of  the 
gods.  An  offering  was  made  to  the  tree-spirit,  and  only  after 
the  spirit  had  been  thus  propitiated  did  the  man  venture  to 
fell  the  tree.  But  if  he  neglected  to  perform  the  offering  it 
was  thought  that  the  tree-spirit  would  cause  illness  in  his 
family.2  Among  these  Baganda  "  there  was  no  question  of 
timber-rights,  or  of  ownership  over  the  forest,  for  all  timber 
was  public  property  ;  but  most  people  held  the  belief  that 
trees  were  possessed  by  spirits,  and  that  the  spirits  needed  to 
be  propitiated  by  an  offering  of  a  goat  or  of  a  fowl,  with  some 
beer,  and  possibly  a  few  cowry-shells.  The  cowry-shells  were 
tied  round  the  trunk  of  the  tree,  the  beer  was  poured  out  at 
the  roots  of  it,  and  the  animal,  if  it  was  killed,  was  killed  in 
such  a  manner  that  the  blood  ran  to  the  roots  ;  the  meat  was 
then  cooked  and  eaten  by  the  man  who  made  the  offering, 
seated  near  the  tree.  In  some  instances  the  goat  was  kept 
alive  and  allowed  to  roam  about  at  will  in  the  garden  in 
which  the  tree  grew."  3  Among  the  Banyoro,  another  large 
tribe  of  Uganda,  before  a  tree  was  felled  for  the  purpose  of 
making  a  royal  canoe,  the  king  used  to  send  a  man  or  an  ox 
to  be  offered  to  the  tree-spirit.  The  victim  was  killed  beside 
the  tree,  in  a  place  where  the  blood  ran  on  to  the  tree  roots. 
If  an  animal  were  offered,  the  flesh  of  the  victim  was  cooked 

1  Adrian!  and  Kruijt,  op.  cit.  ii.  359.          *  J.  Roscoe,  op.  tit.  p.  386. 
1  J.  Roscoe,  The  Ba^anda^  p.  317. 


and  eaten  by  the  medicine-man  and  the  workmen  who  were 
to  fell  the  tree  and  build  the  canoe.  The  body  of  the  human 
victim  was  left  by  the  tree  roots.1  Among  the  Basoga,  another 
tribe  of  Uganda,  "  when  a  large  tree  is  wanted  for  building 
or  for  a  canoe,  the  man  who  is  going  to  fell  it  takes  a  goat  or 
a  fowl  for  an  offering,  kills  it  by  the  roots  of  the  tree,  and  pours 
out  the  blood  by  the  roots.  He  cooks  the  meat  and  eats  it 
with  his  companions  who  are  going  to  work  with  him. 
After  the  meal  he  strikes  one  sharp  cut  into  the  tree  with  his 
axe,  and  waits  until  the  sap  begins  to  flow,  when  he  stoops 
and  drinks  some  of  it  from  the  incision  and  thus  becomes  a 
brother  of  the  tree.  He  may  then  fell  the  tree  and  use  its 
timber  as  he  wishes  without  any  danger  to  himself  or  to  his 

The  Wachagga  or  Wajagga  of  Mount  Kilimanjaro  observe 
a  very  extraordinary  ceremony  before  felling  a  tree  of  a  species 
called  Mringa,  for  the  purpose  of  converting  the  wood  into 
bee-hives.     The  ceremony  has  been  described  by  the  Honour- 
able Charles  Dundas,  to  whom  we  owe  a  valuable  account  of 
the  Wachagga.     I  will  quote  his  description  of  the  ceremony 
in  full.     "  The  tree  in  which  the  hive  is  hung  is  exhorted  and 
threatened  to  secure  its  co-operation,  and  finally  the  collec- 
tion of  the  honey  is  occasion  for  ceremony,  prayer,  and 
thanks.    To  give  a  characteristic  example  of  these  mystic 
performances,  I  may  briefly  describe  the  manner  of  felling  a 
tree  species  called  Mringa,  which  is  commonly  used  for  hive- 
making.    This  tree,  which  is  always  the  private  property  of 
someone  and  may  not  be  felled  by  him,  is  spoken  of  as  *  man's 
sister,'  and  its  felling  is  treated  as  a  giving-away  of  a  bride. 
The  owner  brings  offerings  of  milk,  beer,  honey,  Eleusine, 
and  beans.    These  he  formally  presents  to  the  tree  as  a  dower 
on  the  occasion  of  its  marriage  and  takes  his  leave  after 
giving  his  blessing  as  to  a  daughter.     On  the  following  day 
the  tree  is  felled,  the  owner  leaves  the  village,  and  is  represented 
by  a  relative  delegated  to  *  hand  over  the  sister.'     The  men 
who  are  about  to  fell  the  tree  give  him  a  calabash  of  beer, 
asking  for  his  sister.     Having  drunk  of  this  and  poured  the 
remainder  in  the  stem,  the  relative  now  addresses  the  tree  as 

1  J.  Roscoe,  The  Northern  Bantu*          *  J.  Roscoe,  op.  cit.  p.  249* 
PP-  79 



follows :  '  My  departing  child,  I  have  drunk  of  the  beer,  I 
have  received  my  gift  for  you.  I  give  you  now  to  your  law- 
ful husband  as  you  were  informed  of  by  your  father  yesterday. 
You  shall  be  a  help  to  your  husband,  go  cultivate  and  acquire 
cattle  and  small  stock.  Go  and  let  yourself  not  become  lean. 
Cultivate  for  your  father  as  he  cultivated  for  you,  so  that  you 
grew  up.  He  led  water  to  you  and  watered  you,  and  now  you 
are  grown.  Have  fortune,  my  child.  Your  face  shines,  it 
shall  be  desired  by  all  bees  ;  they  shall  come  and  yearn  for 
you.'  With  these  words  he  departs,  and  the  felling  com- 
mences. For  this  purpose  two  axes  are  used,  one  for  the 
initial  stroke  and  the  other  for  the  actual  work.  As  they  do 
so  they  speak  comforting  words  to  the  tree  as  to  a  girl  who  is 
carried  away  from  her  home,  reminding  her  that  all  is  done 
by  her  father's  wish.  Now  the  tree  is  addressed  as  the  enticer 
of  bees.  The  first  axe  is  laid  on  the  tree  by  the  leader,  who 
asks  pardon  for  what  he  does,  representing  that  poverty  has 
driven  him  thereto.  Next  he  implores  the  tree  to  bring  him 
good  fortune  and  exhorts  the  bees  of  such  and  such  strangers 
to  leave  their  home  and  come  to  his  hive,  adding  not  a  few 
unkindly  wishes  against  the  same  bee-keepers.  Now  the 
place  where  the  chopping  is  to  start  is  smeared  with  KimomO) 
a  concoction  intended  to  attract  the  bees.  The  stem  is 
marked  with  Kimomo  into  sections  suitable  for  conversion 
into  hives.  This  ritual  is  performed  by  each  one  of  the  group 
in  respect  to  one  tree  so  that  each  has  a  prior  claim  to  one  of 
the  trees  felled.  While  they  are  busying  themselves  with  the 
fallen  tree  the  owner  makes  his  appearance,  wailing  his 
regrets  that  he  came  too  late  to  prevent  the  deed  and  exclaim- 
ing that  his  daughter  has  been  robbed.  The  others  endea- 
vour to  soothe  him,  representing  that  it  is  all  for  his  daughter's 
best  and  appealing  to  him  with  outstretched  hands,  until  he 
finally  consents  to  grasp  them  and  be  reconciled.  One  or 
two  of  the  hives  made  from  the  tree  are  given  to  the  owner."  * 
Before  cutting  down  a  large  tree,  the  Palaungs  of  Burma 
"  offer  a  prayer  to  propitiate  the  spirit  that  may  have  made 
its  home  in  it ;  this  is  only  done  if  the  tree  is  really  large. 
Spirits  that  are  strong  take  possession  of  the  large  trees, 
evicting  any  little  spirits  that  may  have  made  their  homes 

1  C.  Dundaa,  Kilimanjaro  audits  People  (London,  1924),  pp.  275^. 


there  ;  these  may  have  to  take  up  their  abode  in  the  smaller 
trees  and  bushes.  The  weaker  spirits  appear  to  be  harmless, 
and  no  one  apologizes  to  them  when  their  homes  are  cut  down. 
If,  however,  a  tree  is  large  and  straight,  and  will  make  a  good 
post  for  a  house,  it  is  well  to  propitiate  the  spirit  living  in  it. 
If  this  is  not  done,  the  spirit  may  follow  the  post  to  the  new 
house,  and  bring  trouble  to  the  house-builder  and  his  family. 
An  offering  of  a  handful  of  cooked  rice  is  sometimes  made,  but 
the  following  prayer  is  usually  considered  to  be  enough.  The 
man  repeating  it  squats  down,  with  his  hands  palm  to  palm, 
and  looking  up  at  the  tree  he  says,  '  I  wish  to  cut  wood*  O 
spirit  dwelling  in  this  place  please  remove  thyself,  I  shall 
cut  down  this  tree  to  make  a  post  for  my  house.  Please  do 
not  blame  me,  O  spirit.'  "  *  When  the  Kachins  of  Burma 
are  about  to  fell  a  large  tree  out  of  which  to  fashion  a  coffin, 
five  or  six  men  go  into  the  forest  and  choose  a  large  tree, 
preferably  a  latsai>  the  wood  of  which  was  formerly  reserved 
for  chiefs  but  may  now  be  used  by  commoners.  Before 
cutting  it  down  they  usually  sacrifice  a  hen  by  dashing  it 
against  the  trunk.  When  the  tree  has  been  brought  down 
they  offer  upon  the  stump  the  head  of  the  victim  and  cook 
remains  of  it.  In  default  of  a  hen  they  present  to  the  tree  a 
little  dry  fish,  always  with  the  object  of  preventing  the  spirit 
of  the  tree  from  biting  them,  and  also  for  the  purpose  of  paying 
the  spirit  for  the  wood  which  they  take  for  the  coffin.2 

A  French  officer  engaged  in  surveying  the  country  in- 
habited by  the  primitive  Mois  of  Indo-China  witnessed  one 
such  ceremony  of  propitiation  performed  by  the  natives  before 
felling  a  tree.  He  says, ' '  It  sometimes  happened  in  the  course 
of  our  geodetical  survey  that  we  were  compelled  to  cut  down 
a  tree  which  interrupted  the  field  of  view  of  our  instruments. 
A  most  interesting  scene  preceded  the  act  of  destruction, 
The  '  foreman '  of  our  Moi  coolies  approached  the  con- 
demned tree  and  addressed  it  much  as  follows  :  '  Spirit 
who  hast  made  thy  home  in  this  tree,  we  worship  thee  and  are 
come  to  claim  thy  mercy.  The  white  mandarin,  our  relent- 
less master,  whose  commands  we  cannot  but  obey,  has  bidden 

1  Mrs.  L.  Milne,  The  Home  of  an      rallies  chezlesKatchins,"  i 
Eastern  Clan,  pp,  177  sq.  xii.-xiii.  (1917-1918)  p.  430. 

1  P.  C.  Gilhodes,  "  Mort  et  func- 


us  to  cut  down  thy  habitation,  a  task  which  fills  us  with  sad- 
ness, and  which  we  only  carry  out  with  regret.  I  adjure  thee 
to  depart  at  once  from  this  place  and  seek  a  new  dwelling- 
place  elsewhere,  and  I  pray  thee  to  forget  the  wrong  we  do 
thee,  for  we  are  not  our  own  masters.'  "  l 

Among  the  Dyaks  of  the  Dusun  district  in  Southern 
Borneo,  when  a  coffin  is  to  be  made  some  male  members  of 
the  family  go  into  the  forest  to  find  a  suitable  tree.  Having 
found  it  they  smear  the  trunk  with  a  mixture  of  rice,  fowl's 
blood,  and  egg  as  a  purchase-money  for  the  wood  paid  to  the 
spirit  of  the  tree,  who  flees  from  the  felled  tree  and  must  be 
propitiated.  At  the  beginning  of  the  work  a  fire  is  lit  to  keep 
off  Apitau,  a  dangerous  spirit  of  the  forest.  Should  the  fire 
go  out  during  the  work,  the  workmen  will  be  smitten  by  the 
forest  spirit,  and  will  fall  ill  in  consequence.2  The  Bare'e- 
speaking  Toradyas  of  Central  Celebes  believe  that  every  large 
tree  is  inhabited  by  a  spirit ;  hence  before  felling  such  a  tree 
they  offer  betel  to  the  spirit  of  the  tree,  with  a  request  that  he 
would  depart  and  seek  another  home.3 

With  regard  to  the  Kiwai  of  British  New  Guinea  we  are 
told  that  "  even  nowadays,  when  provided  with  iron  axes, 
they  show  great  reluctance  in  felling  certain  large  trees,  par- 
ticularly if  the  tree  stands  by  itself  or  is  conspicuous  in  some 
other  way.  Such  a  tree  is  thought  to  be  inhabited  by  one 
of  the  etengena,  a  group  of  sylvan  beings.  If  it  is  necessary 
to  cut  down  some  tree  in  which  an  etengena  may  dwell,  the 
being  must  be  asked  to  remove  to  some  other  tree  suggested 
to  it.  After  a  few  days  the  man  returns  and  prepares  to 
begin  the  cutting,  but  if  his  arms  feel  very  heavy  so  that  he 
can  hardly  lift  them,  this  is  a  sign  that  the  entengena  has  not 
yet  moved  from  the  tree  and  has  passed  into  his  arms  to  prevent 
the  felling  of  the  tree."  4 

Aijiong  the  Mailu  Islanders  of  British  New  Guinea,  when 
a  certain  man  named  Veavo  was  about  to  cut  down  a 
large  tree  to  make  a  canoe,  having  put  his  mark  upon  the 
tree,  he  "  took  care  to  count  the  number  of  its  buttresses,  and 

1  H.  Baudesson,  Indo-China  audits  graphie>  xxi.  (1913)  p.  57. 
Primitive  People,  p.  129.  8  N.  Adrian!  and  A.  C.  Kruijt,  op. 

a  P.  te  Wechel,  "  Erinnerungen  aus  tit.  i.  276,  ii.  352. 
den    Ost-    und    West-landern,"    in          *  G.  Landtman,  The  Kiwai  Papu- 

Internationales    Archiv  fur    Ethno-  ans  of  British  New   Guinea,  p.  65. 


went  back  and  told  his  friends  or  near  relatives.  On  a  certain 
day  he  set  out  with  as  many  friends  as  there  were  buttresses, 
and  by  the  signs  and  certain  marks  he  left  along  the  track 
found  his  way  to  the  spot.  He  first  assigned  to  each  man  his 
buttress  to  chop,  and  each  man  then,  with  his  axe  on  his 
shoulder  ready,  watched  Veavo,  the  gubina  (master  or  owner). 
He  held  in  his  hand  a  small  branch  of  moda  covered  with 
leaves,  and  was  chewing  the  usual  ceremonial  areca-nut, 
betel-leaves,  and  lime,  and  his  mouth  was  a  mass  of  bright 
brick-red  saliva.  He  spat  this  out  over  the  branch  in  his 
hand,  and  gently  whisked  it  against  the  tree-trunk,  addressing 
the  wood-sprites  thus  :  *  The  men  have  come  together,  be 
favourable  to  us,  do  not  split,  and  look  upon  us  that  the  tree 
may  fall  well.'  Then  the  wood-sprites  went  away  to  make  a  new 
village  in  the  top  branches  of  another  moda,  and  the  men 
started  upon  the  trunk  with  their  axes,  each  at  his  own 
buttress.  That  day  the  tree  was  cut  down,  and  the  men 
went  back  to  their  village  to  sleep,  while  the  wood-sprites 
settled  down  in  their  new  quarters.'1  z 

The  Namau  tribes  of  British  New  Guinea  "  believed  that 
when  a  tree  was  felled  its  imunu  (soul)  was  dispossessed,  and 
had  to  seek  an  abiding-place  in  another  tree.  Its  preference 
was  for  a  tree  of  the  species  from  which  it  had  been  expelled, 
but  failing  it.  there  were  alternative  species  in  which  it  could 
dwell  temporarily.  As  an  illustration  I  was  told  that  when 
an  aravea  tree  was  felled  its  imunu  entered  a  laura,  a  species 
of  the  acacia  group,  and  remained  there  until  it  could  estab- 
lish itself  in  another  aravea  tree."  2  But  the  writer  who  has 
recorded  this  belief  of  the  Namau  tribes  does  not  tell  us  what 
ceremonies  these  people  observe  at  felling  a  tree  and  so  dis- 
possessing its  spirit. 

Among  the  Trobriand  Islanders  to  the  east  of  New  Guinea, 
when  a  canoe  is  to  be  made  a  tree  is  chosen  for  the  purpose, 
and  the  master  of  the  canoe  (toliwaga),  "  the  builder,  and  a 
few  helpers  repair  to  the  spot,  and  a  preliminary  rite  must  be 
performed  before  they  begin  to  cut  it  down.  A  small  in- 
cision is  made  into  the  trunk,  so  that  a  particle  of  food,  or  a 
bit  of  areca-nut  can  be  put  into  it.  Giving  this  as  an  offering 

A7          J'  V;r  Saville»  In   ^known          •  J.  IT,  Holmes,  In  Primitive 
Attw  Outnra  (London,  1926),  p.  122.         Guinea  (London,  1924),  p.  154. 


to  the  tokway  (wood-sprite),  the  magician  offers  an  incanta- 
tion : — '  Come  down,  O  wood-sprites,  O  Tokway \  dwellers 
in  branches,  come  down  !  Come  down,  dwellers  in  branch 
forks,  in  branch  shoots  !  Come  down,  come,  eat !  Go  to 
your  coral  outcrop  over  there  ;  crowd  there,  swarm  there,  be 
noisy  there,  scream  there !  Step  down  from  our  tree,  old 
men  !  This  is  a  canoe  ill  spoken  of ;  this  is  a  canoe  out  of 
which  you  have  been  shamed ;  this  is  a  canoe  out  of  which 
you  have  been  expelled  !  At  sunrise  and  morning  you  help 
us  in  felling  the  canoe  ;  this  our  tree,  old  men,  let  it  go  and 
fall  down.'  This  spell,  given  in  free  translation,  which, 
however,  follows  the  original  very  closely,  word  for  word,  is 
far  clearer  than  the  average  sample  of  Trobriand  magic. 
In  the  first  part  the  Tokway  is  invoked  under  various  names 
and  invited  to  leave  his  abode,  and  to  move  to  some  other 
place,  and  there  to  be  at  his  ease.  In  the  second  part  the 
canoe  is  mentioned  with  several  epithets,  all  of  which  denote 
an  act  of  discourtesy  or  ill-omen.  This  is  obviously  done  to 
compel  the  Tokway  to  leave  the  tree." 1 

The  Mandaya,  a  tribe  in  the  Davao  district  of  Mindanao, 
one  of  the  Philippine  Islands,  believe  that  certain  trees  are 
inhabited  by  malevolent  spirits.  The  ground  beneath  these 
trees  is  generally  free  from  undergrowth,  and  thus  it  is  known 
that  "  a  spirit  who  keeps  his  yard  clean  resides  there."  "  In 
clearing  ground  for  a  new  field  it  sometimes  becomes  neces- 
sary to  cut  down  one  of  these  trees,  but  before  it  is  disturbed 
an  offering  of  betel-nut,  food,  and  a  white  chicken  is  carried 
to  the  plot.  The  throat  of  the  fowl  is  cut  and  its  blood  is 
allowed  to  fall  in  the  roots  of  the  tree.  Meanwhile  one  of  the 
older  men  calls  the  attention  of  the  spirits  to  the  offerings  and 
begs  that  they  be  accepted  in  payment  for  the  dwelling  that 
they  are  about  to  destroy.  This  food  is  never  eaten,  as  is 
customary  with  offerings  made  to  other  spirits.  After  a  lapse 
of  two  or  three  days  it  is  thought  that  the  occupant  of  the  tree 
has  had  time  to  move  and  the  plot  is  cleared."  2 

When  a  fruit-tree  does  not  bear  fruit  primitive  man  often 
imagines  that  he  can  compel  it  to  do  so  by  threatening  the 

1  B.  Malinowski,  Argonauts  of  the  *  Fay-Cooper  Cole,  Wild  Tribes  of 
Western  Pacific  (London,  1922),  pp.  the  Davao  JDirtriet,  Mindanao  t  pp. 
126  sq.  176 


spirit  of  the  tree  to  cut  it  down  if  it  should  remain  persistently 
barren*  Elsewhere  I  have  cited  examples  of  this  primitive 
form  of  horticulture  in  various  parts  of  the  world,  including 
Europe.1  Here  I  will  add  a  further  example  of  it  from  Burma, 
"  If  a  fruit-tree  does  not  bear  fruit,  some  quaint  ceremonies 
are  performed  by  the  owner  of  the  tree,  in  order  to  make  it 
bear.  The  Burmans  hang  bones  on  the  branches  or  trunk  of 
a  barren  fruit-tree,  but  the  Palaungs  take  large  bones  and 
hammer  them  into  the  trunk,  at  the  same  time  saying  to  it, 
1  If  thou  dost  not  bear  much  fruit,  be  afraid,  for  I  shall  come 
to  kill  thee/  Another  way  is  for  the  owner  to  ask  a  friend  to 
climb  to  the  top  of  the  unfruitful  tree,  to  speak  for  it.  The 
owner,  waiting  below,  then  takes  a  sword  or  a  spear,  and 
resting  the  point  upon  the  tree,  he  asks,  *  Wilt  thou  bear 
fruit  ?  *  The  man  in  the  tree,  as  a  sort  of  godfather,  answers 
for  it,  '  I  shall  bear  fruit.'  The  owner  from  below  says, 
'  How  much  fruit  ?  *  The  friend  again  answers  for  the  tree, 
*  I  shall  bear  very  much  fruit/  The  owner  then  threatens 
the  tree,  saying,  '  If  thou  dost  not  bear  fruit,  I  shall  kill 
thee/  The  man  in  the  tree  answers,  *  Do  not  say  so,  please, 
I  shall  certainly  bear  fruit.  Do  not  kill  me  and  I  shall  be 
grateful'  "a 

Sometimes  primitive  man  believes  that  trees  are  tenanted 
by  the  spirits  of  the  human  dead.  Thus  in  the  island  of 
Formosa  "  a  tree  near  the  entrance  to  a  village,  usually 
selected  on  account  of  its  large  size,  receives  special  homage 
from  the  various  tribes  of  the  Tsou  group.  It  is  thought  that 
the  spirits  of  their  ancestors  take  up  their  abode  in  these  trees. 
Before  sowing  and  after  harvest,  when  they  mow  the  grass, 
which  is  a  ceremony  performed  once  a  year,  and  refill  the 
bamboo  water  pipes,  likewise  an  annual  ceremony,  the  savages 
assemble  under  this  tree,  and  sprinkling  wine  about  the 
ground,  they  worship  the  spirit  of  their  departed  ancestors.1' 3 
Again  in  Formosa  * '  some  of  the  Paiwan  group  believe  that 
the  spirits  of  their  ancestors  abide  in  a  thick  wood/*  4 

Among  the  Ila-speaking  people  of  Northern  Rhodesia  in 

1  The  Golden  Bough  :    The  Magic  3  J.  M.  Davidson,  The  Island  of 

Art  and  the  Evolution  of  Kings,  ii,  Formosa,  Past  and  Present  (London 

pp.  20  $q.  and  New  York,  1903),  p.  570, 

8  Mrs.  L.  Milne,  The  Home  of  an 

Eastern  Clan,  pp.  222  sq*  *  J.  M.  Davidson,  op.  rit.  p.  574. 


every  commune  there  is  a  grove  consecrated  to  a  demigod, 
that  is,  to  the  deified  spirit  of  a  dead  man,  whose  name  it  bears, 
and  who  may  be  supposed  to  reside  ip  the  grove.  Besides 
the  principal  grove  each  demigod  has  subsidiary  groves  or 
single  large  trees  where  he  at  times  takes  up  residence.  The 
origin  of  the  groves  may  be  the  poles  planted  around  the 
graves.  In  course  of  time  they  would  grow  up  into  large 
trees,  decay,  and  be  replaced  by  younger  ones  growing  up 
around  them.  As  it  is  taboo  to  meddle  with  the  trees  and  the 
brushwood  springing  up  under  and  around  them,  a  dense 
impenetrable  thicket  is  formed.  Shimunenga's  grove  at 
Mala  covers  at  least  an  acre  of  ground  ;  on  its  outskirts  there 
stand  several  large  wild  fig  trees,  upon  one  of  which  in  par- 
ticular various  skulls  of  cattle  and  animals  hang  bleaching — 
remains  of  past  offerings.  Only  the  priest  ever  enters  this 
sacred  grove,  and  he  but  once  a  year,  when  he  has  to  cut  his 
way  in.1 

Among  the  Siena,  in  the  central  district  of  the  Ivory 
Coast,  every  village  has  a  sacred  grove,  sometimes  occupying 
an  area  larger  than  that  of  the  village  itself.  These  groves 
are  kept  very  well,  for  in  them  the  spirits  of  their  ancestors, 
and  the  protective  spirits  of  the  village,  are  thought  to  reside. 
The  talismans  and  other  relics  of  their  ancestors  are  kept  in 
the  clearing  in  the  grove.  Sometimes  these  groves  survive 
the  village  to  which  they  originally  belonged.2 

Here  we  may  notice  some  other  examples  of  sacred  groves 
in  Africa.  Thus  the  Nounoumas  of  the  French  or  Western 
Sudan  have  sacred  groves  in  a  large  number  of  their  villages. 
There  is  a  particularly  fine  one  at  Leo.  The  inhabitants  of 
the  place  offer  a  sacrifice  to  it  every  year  after  the  harvest  to 
thank  the  Earth  (mother  of  the  sacred  wood)  for  having  given 
a  good  crop.8 

In  Yatenga,  a  district  of  the  French  Sudan,  there  is  a 
sacred  grove  for  every  village  inhabited  by  the  Mossi  and 
Foulsa  tribes.  These  sacred  groves  the  people  regard  as  their 
protectors  and  offer  sacrifices  to  them  in  order  to  prevent 

1  E.  W.  Smith  and  A.  M.  Dale,  The      Etknograpkiques  et  Sociologiques,  ii. 
Ila~ Speaking    Peoples    of    Northern      (1909)  pp.  18  sq. 
Rhodesia,  ii.  pp.  183  sqq. 

1  M.  Delafosse,  "  Le  Peuple  Si£na          '  L.  Tauxier,  Le  Noir  du  Soudan^ 
ou   SeDoufo,"  in  Revue  'des   £tudes      p.  191. 


142  T//£  WOXSM/P  OF  TREES  CHAP. 

sickness  from  entering  the  village.     It  is  not  permitted  to  take 

wood  or  to  cut  trees  in  the  sacred  grove,  nor  to  hunt  nor  to 

kill  beasts  that  live  there,  and  above  all  the  serpents.1    The 

Mossi  believe  that  the  tangande  or  protector  spirit  of  the 

village  takes  the  form  of  an  animal,  which  dwells  in  the  sacred 

grove.    It  may  be  in  the  shape  of  a  crocodile,  a  boa,  a  panther, 

a  tortoise,  a  hind,  a  hare,  and  so  on.     The  particular  animal 

is  sacred  to  all  the  villagers,  and  may  not  be  killed  by  them 

within  the  grove,  though  they  may  kill  it  elsewhere,  even  quite 

close  to  the  grove.     Nothing  may  be  taken  from  the  sacred 

grove,  everything  there  is  sacred.     It  is  forbidden  not  only  to 

cut  wood  there,  but  even  to  gather  wood  that  has  fallen  and 

lies  on  the  ground.     Still  less  is  it  lawful  to  set  fire  to  the  grass 

in  or  near  the  grove,  for  a  conflagration  in  the  sacred  grove 

would  be  regarded  as  a  catastrophe  for  which  the  people 

would  find  no  remedy.     No  stranger  is  allowed  to  enter  the 

sacred  grove,  and  if  necessary  force  would  be  applied  to 

prevent  the  intrusion.     But  if  nevertheless  a  stranger  should 

succeed  by  sheer  force  in  making  his  way  into  the  grove, 

expiatory  sacrifices  would  be  offered  in  the  grove  after  his 

departure  to  atone  for  the  sacrilege.2 

Near  Idua  Oronn  in  Southern  Nigeria  there  is  a  sacred 
grove  whence  no  branch  might  be  cut  or  leaf  plucked  on 
penalty  of  death.  This  was  a  place  of  refuge  for  escaped 
slaves,  and  of  sanctuary  for  those  guilty  of  manslaughter.8 

In  the  land  of  the  Kikuyu,  a  tribe  of  Kenya,  many  of  the 
hills  are  crowned  by  sacred  groves*  As  no  wood  may  be  cut 
in  these  groves  for  fear  of  bringing  sickness  on  the  land,  the 
trees  of  the  grove  are  generally  surrounded  by  a  dense  mass  of 
undergrowth.  At  the  top  of  the  hill  is  a  flat  spot  surrounded 
by  a  thicket.  This  is  the  place  of  sacrifice,  and  is  called 
athuru  aliakuru.  When  there  is  a  famine  or  drought,  it  may 
be  decided  that  a  sacrifice  is  necessary  to  remedy  the  evil. 
Everyone  must  remain  in  their  hut,  with  the  exception  of 
fourteen  old  men.  These,  the  elected  priests  of  the  hill, 
ascend  with  a  sheep.  Goats  are  not  acceptable  to  Ngai  or 
God  on  such  an  occasion.  On  the  top  of  the  hill  they  light  a 

1  L.  Tauxier,  Le  Noir  du  Yatenga,      Anthropo$>  x-xi,  (1915-1916)  p.  193, 
PP-  374  sq.  *  p.  A.  Talbot,  Life  in  Southern 

1  P.  E.  Mangin,  «  Les  Mossi,"  in      Nigeria,  p.  3558. 


fire,  and  kill  the  sheep  by  holding  its  mouth  and  nose  till  it 
dies  of  suffocation.  It  is  then  skinned,  and  the  skin  is  sub- 
sequently given  to  and  worn  by  one  of  the  old  men's  children. 
The  sheep  is  then  cooked,  and  a  branch  is  plucked  and  dipped 
into  the  fat  which  is  sprinkled  on  to  the  leaves  of  the  surround- 
ing trees.  The  old  men  then  eat  some  of  the  meat :  should 
they  not  do  this,  the  sacrifice  is  not  acceptable.  The  rest  of 
the  flesh  is  burned  in  the  fire,  and  Ngai  is  thought  to  come  and 
eat  it  afterwards.  It  is  said  that  no  sooner  is  this  sacrifice 
completed  than  thunder  rolls  up  and  hail  rolls  down  with  such 
force  that  the  old  men  have  to  wrap  their  garments  round 
their  heads  and  run  for  their  houses.  Water  then  bursts  forth 
from  the  top  of  the  hill  and  flows  down  the  side.  If  any  of 
the  trees  in  the  grove  are  cut  down,  it  is  said  that  many  people 
will  die.  Chiefs  and  their  wives  are  sometimes  buried  in  these 
groves.  When  war  comes  into  the  country,  or  after  the  war  is 
over,  to  conclude  the  peace,  a  sacrifice  of  female  goats  is  made 
on  the  Kehalu,  in  the  sacred  grove.1 

Again  in  Ruanda,  a  district  of  Central  Africa  inhabited  by 
the  Barundi,  there  are  many  sacred  groves.  These  groves 
always  mark  the  deserted  homestead  of  a  dead  king,  and  may 
even  grow  out  of  his  grave.  No  one  may  touch  or  break  a 
branch  of  a  tree  in  these  groves.  This  respect  for  the  groves 
is  dictated  not  so  much  by  piety  towards  the  dead  king,  as  by 
fear  of  the  anger  of  his  ghost.  All  sorts  of  animals  abound  in 
the  groves,  and  amongst  them  are  snakes,  in  which  the  soul 
of  the  dead  king  is  believed  to  be  incarnate.  The  priest  of 
the  district  sometimes  makes  an  offering  to  the  spirit  of  the 
king  by  giving  food  and  milk  to  the  snakes.8 

Speaking  of  the  wild  tribes  of  the  Afghan  frontier,  Dr. 
Pennell  observes  "  the  frontier  hills  are  often  bare  enough  of 
fields  or  habitations,  but  one  cannot  go  far  without  coming 
across  some  zyarat  or  holy  shrine,  where  the  faithful  worship 
and  make  their  vows.  It  is  very  frequently  situated  on  some 
mountain-top  or  inaccessible  cliff,  reminding  one  of  the  £  high 
places  '  of  the  Israelites.  Round  the  grave  are  some  stunted 
trees  of  tamarisk  or  ber  (Zisyphw  jujubd).  On  the  branches 
of  these  are  hung  innumerable  bits  of  rag  and  pieces  of 

1  C.    H.    Stigand,    The   Land  of         •  H.  Meyer,  ZH*  Barundi,  p.  137 
Zinj  (London,  1913),  pp.  241  sqq. 


coloured  cloth,  because  every  votary  who  makes  a  petition  at 
the  shrine  is  bound  to  tie  a  piece  of  cloth  on  as  the  outward 
symbol  of  his  vow,  .  ,  .  One  distinct  advantage  of  these 
shrines  is  that  it  is  a  sin  to  cut  wood  from  any  of  the  trees 
surrounding  them,  Thus  it  comes  about  that  the  shrines  are 
the  only  green  spots  among  the  hills  which  the  improvident 
vandalism  of  the  tribes  has  denuded  of  all  their  trees  and 
shrubs." 1 

Among  the  Oraons  of  Chota  Nagpur  in  India  every  village 
has  its  sacred  grove  dedicated  to  the  principal  deity  of  the 
village.  In  some  villages  the  sacred  grove  has  now  shrunk 
to  one  or  two  ancient  trees  standing  on  a  bit  of  fallow  land. 
But  ancient  custom  forbids  any  one  to  cut  trees  or  branches  of 
trees  standing  in  the  grove.  When  a  tree  or  a  branch  dries 
up  or  falls  down  of  itself,  any  one  may  take  it  on  payment  of 
a  price  to  the  representatives  of  the  village  community*  But 
no  member  of  the  pioneer  families  who  originally  cleared  the 
site  of  the  village  and  brought  the  land  under  cultivation  is 
allowed  to  take  or  use  the  wood  of  the  grove.* 

Again  among  the  Mundas,  another  primitive  tribe  of 
Chota  Nagpur,  "  although  the  greater  portion  of  the  primeval 
forest,  in  clearings  of  which  the  Munda  villages  were  origin- 
ally established,  have  since  disappeared  under  the  axe  or 
under  the  jara-fire,*  many  a  Munda  village  still  retains  a 
portion  or  portions  of  the  original  forest  to  serve  as  Sarnas 
or  sacred  groves.  In  some  Mundari  villages,  only  a  small 
clump  of  ancient  trees  now  represents  the  original  forest  and 
serves  as  the  village-Sarna.  These  Sarnas  are  the  only 
temples  the  Mundas  know.  Here  the  village  gods  reside, 
and  are  periodically  worshipped  and  propitiated  with  sacri- 
fices." * 

Among  the  primitive  Mois  of  Indo-China  every  village 
has  at  least  a  patch  of  sacred  grove,  in  which  it  is  forbidden, 
under  the  severest  penalties,  to  cut  the  smallest  twig.  Any 
infraction  of  this  rule  exposes  its  author  to  severe  reprisals, 
often  entailing  the  death  of  the  delinquent.  They  believe 

1  T.  L.  Pennell,  Among  the  Wild  pared  for  cultivation  by  burning  down 

Tribes  of  the  Afghan  Frontier  (Lon-  portions  of  jungles." 
don,  1909),  pp,  33  sff. 

1  S.  C.  Roy,  The  Oraons,  p.  172.  *  S.  C.  Roy,  The  Mundas  md  their 

?  "  By  the  jara  system,  land  is  pre-  Country  (Ranchi,  1912),  pp.  386 


that  the  spirits  inhabiting  the  profaned  place  would  avenge 
themselves  upon  the  village,  causing  all  sorts  of  evil  to  fall 
upon  it,  for  not  having  protected  their  retreat  from  sacrilegious 
hands.  When  an  epidemic  or  a  case  of  death  occurs  of  which 
the  medicine-men  cannot  explain  the  origin,  these  sages 
attribute  the  calamity  to  a  profanation  of  the  sacred  grove. 
The  fear  of  being  stricken  to  death  by  the  spirits  for  such  a 
profanation  rouses  the  usually  gentle  and  peaceful  Moi  to  a 
fury  in  which  he  is  capable  of  any  violence.  Whenever  such 
a  profanation  actually  takes  place,  the  medicine-man  fixes  a 
certain  number  of  animals  which  are  to  be  sacrificed  for  the 
purpose  of  appeasing  the  offended  spirits.  And  when  the 
French  Government  undertakes  some  public  work,  such  as 
the  opening  of  a  road  or  the  construction  of  a  canal,  which 
involves  the  destruction  of  a  sacred  grove,  the  villagers  offer 
important  sacrifices  before  they  allow  the  least  morsel  of  the 
sacred  wood  to  be  cut.1 

In  San  Cristoval,  one  of  the  Solomon  Islands,  there  are 
sacred  groves  which  are  believed  to  be  haunted  by  ghosts 
or  spirits.  They  are  called  "  villages  of  the  dead,"  and  the 
people  believe  that  if  a  man  goes  through  one  of  them  his 
soul  will  be  left  behind  there.  Generally  such  a  place  is  a 
thicket  of  a  bamboo  called  'an  bungu,  which  is  always  sacred, 
and  one  large  tree,  usually  a  maranuri^  a  large  tree  with 
white  flowers.  When  one  such  sacred  grove  was  cut  down 
by  a  planter  the  awe-struck  natives  waited  to  see  what  would 
happen,  as  a  consequence  of  such  profanation.  In  this  par- 
ticular grove  near  Hawaa  a  winged  serpent  was  supposed  to 
appear,  changing  from  a  man  to  a  serpent  and  causing  sores 
and  illness  to  any  who  profaned  the  spot.  Sacrifices  of  pigs 
and  pudding  were  offered  here.  At  other  sacred  groves,  on 
the  north  coast  of  the  island,  passers-by  used  to  lay  down 
offerings  of  money.2 

In  the  island  of  Yap,  the  inhabitants  of  which  belong  to 
the  Micronesian  family,  there  are  sacred  groves  in  which  it  is 
forbidden  to  cut  wood.  It  is  thought  that  the  spirit  of  the 
grove  would  visit  with  severe  punishment  any  profane  person 

1  J.     Canivey,     "  Notice    sur    les     iv.  (1913)  PP-  *7  sqq. 
moeurs    et    coutumes    des   Moi,"  in         a  C.  E.  Fox,  The  Threshold  of  the 
Revue  d*  Rthnographie  et  de  Sociologie,      Pacific  t  p.  280. 


who  should  sin  in  this  way.  They  believe  that  the  whole 
island  of  Yap  would  perish  if  a  certain  grove  at  Tomii  were 
destroyed.  Ordinary  mortals  are  forbidden  to  set  foot  within 
a  sacred  grove.  They  think  that  such  a  sacrilegious  in- 
truder would  be  killed  by  the  spirit  of  the  grove,1 

The  Cheremiss  of  Russia  have  many  sacred  groves,  some 
of  which  cover  large  areas  of  the  forest.     These  groves  are 
inviolable,  and  are  sometimes  enclosed  by  walls,  but  the 
anger  of  the  gods  and  the  zeal  of  the  faithful  afford  them  a 
better  protection  than  any  material  barrier.     No  one  is  bold 
enough  to  cut  even  a  branch  in  these  sacred  groves,  and  if  a 
tree  is  thrown  down  in  a  storm  no  one  dares  to  touch  it,  and 
the  fallen  tree  is  allowed  to  lie  upon  the  ground.    The 
sacred  groves  look  like  portions  of  virgin  forest.     If  some 
impious  hand  should  violate  the  sanctity  of  a  grove,  an  ex- 
piatory sacrifice  is  deemed  necessary  to  atone  for  the  sin. 
A  living  goose  or  hen  is  taken  into  the  grove.     They  cut  its 
rump  and  torture  it  till  it  dies.    Then  when  they  have 
plucked  and  cooked  it,  they  throw  it  into  the  fire.  At  the  same 
time  they  call  down  the  vengeance  of  the  god  on  the  guilty 
person,  saying,  "  May  you  find  and  punish  with  a  similar 
death  the  sacrilegious  person  who  has  cut  the  tree."    Among 
the  Cheremiss  the  sacred  grove  is  not  the  abode  or  temple  of 
a  single  god,  but  all  the  gods  loved  by  the  people  take  up 
their  residence  there  at  a  time  when  a  sacrifice  is  offered  in  it. 
But  it  is  necessary  that  in  the  sacred  grove  each  of  the  gods 
should  have  his  own  special  tree  assigned  to  him.     That  is 
why  the  faithful  plant  a  tree  for  each  god  and  attract  him 
to  it  by  offerings.    The  ritual  of  the  sacrifice  offered  in  the 
sacred  grove  follows  a  form  consecrated  by  tradition.  On  a 
table  raised  on  trestles  are  placed  a  pitcher  filled  with  mead, 
dishes  containing  food  and  bread,  and  goblets.-    The  sacri- 
ficer  sprinkles  the  blood  of  the  victim  on  the  trunk  of  the 
tree,  saying,  "  Receive  this  offering,  receive  this  red  blood/' 
In  some  cantons  the  roots  of  the  tree  are  also  sprinkled  with 
the  blood  of  the  victim.    Further,  they  hang  to  the  branches  of 
the  tree  little  tin  figures  and  small  squares  of  bast  to  remind 
the  god  of  the  sacrifice  and  of  the  person  who  offered  it,  for 

1  P.  S.  Walleser,  "  Religiose  Anschauungen  der  Bewohner  von  Jap,"  in 
Anthropof,  viii.  (1913)  p.  625. 


the  Cheremiss  distrust  the  memory  and  good  faith  of  their 
gods,  and  therefore  think  it  well  to  give  them  these  sub- 
stantial reminders  of  the  sacrifice  that  has  been  offered. 
Private  individuals  are  not  free  to  offer  sacrifices  in  the 
sacred  grove.  For  that  purpose  they  must  employ  the  agency 
of  a  professional  sacrificer,  who  himself,  in  offering  the  sacri- 
fice, implores  the  pardon  of  the  god  for  any  fault  he  may  have 
involuntarily  committed.1 

Among  the  beneficent  powers  attributed  to  the  spirits  of 
trees  is  that  of  causing  the  rain  to  fall  in  the  due  season. 
Thus  the  Boussanses,  a  tribe  of  the  French  Sudan,  have,  at 
the  village  of  Longa,  a  sacred  tree  to  which  they  offer  an 
annual  sacrifice  at  the  beginning  of  the  rainy  season.  Every 
inhabitant,  including  the  slaves,  assists  at  the  sacrifice.  The 
offerings,  which  include  hens,  are  presented  by  the  oldest 
man  of  the  village,  and  the  flesh  of  the  victims  is  eaten  by  all 
persons  present.  The  object  of  the  sacrifice  is  to  obtain  an 
abundant  rainfall.  If  rain  should  not  fall  during  the  winter 
they  offer  another  sacrifice  to  the  tree,  and  this  second  sacri- 
fice, we  are  told,  always  proves  effectual.2  Again  the  tree- 
spirit  is  sometimes  believed  to  promote  the  growth  of  the 
crops.  Thus  the  Gallas  of  East  Africa  have  certain  sacred 
trees  to  which  they  repair  at  various  times,  but  especially 
before  harvest.  They  take  with  them  a  green  bough,  which 
they  deposit  at  the  foot  of  the  tree,  imploring  the  divine 
blessing  on  the  family  and  on  the  crops.5 

Again,  tree-spirits  are  often  believed  to  possess  the  power 
of  bestowing  fecundity  on  the  human  sexes  and  cattle. 
Several  examples  of  this  belief  have  already  met  us  ;  4  but 
a  few  more  may  here  be  added.  The  Gouronmossi  of  the 
French  Sudan  offer  sacrifices  to  trees  and  pray  to  them  for 
offspring.  When  a  childless  man  finds  a  large  tamarind 
tree  in  the  forest  he  invokes  it,  together  with  the  Lord  of  the 
Earth  and  the  Lord  of  the  Sun,  that  the  tree  and  these  divini- 
ties may  grant  him  a  son.  And  he  promises  that  if  his 
prayer  be  granted  he  will  give  them  a  hen  and  some  millet 

1  J.  N.  Smirnov  and  P.  Boyer,  Les      p.  174. 

Populations  finnoises  des  bassins  de  la  8  R.   Chambard,   "  Croyances   des 

Volga  et  de  la  Kama,  pp.  180  sqq*  Gallas,"  in  Revue  d*  Ethnographic  et 

2  L.  Tauxier,  Nouvelles  Notes  sur  de  Sociologie  vii.  (1926)  pp.  122  sq. 
U  Mossiet  le  Gourounsi  (Paris,  1924),  4  See  above,  pp.  129,  131. 


meal  If  he  obtains  his  wish  by  the  birth  of  a  son  he  fulfils 
his  vow,1  The  Southern  Buduma  of  Lake  Chad  worship 
the  karraka  tree,  a  kind  of  acacia  and  the  largest  tree  that 
grows  in  the  Chad  region*  Nothing  would  persuade  a  native 
of  these  parts  to  cut  or  burn  it.  They  believe  that  if  the  tree 
is  approached  with  the  proper  rites  it  has  power  to  grant 
prayers.  One  way  of  ensuring  a  favourable  answer  is  for  a 
medicine-man  to  grind  corn  and  mix  it  with  milk  in  a  bowl. 
Then  he  digs  a  small  hole  at  the  foot  of  the  tree,  and  sets  the 
offering  within.  The  petitioners  approach  and  wait  humbly 
while  their  request  is  made.  Usually  this  is  that  more 
children  shall  be  granted,  or  that  the  cattle  shall  multiply.8 
At  Ikotobo,  in  Southern  Nigeria,  there  is  an  ancient  tree,  a 
specimen  of  the  Dolichandrom>  which  is  called  "The  Mother 
of  the  Town."  To  it  come  wives,  young  and  old,  to  pray  for 
offspring.  Hither,  too,  come  ancient  women  to  beg  a  like 
boon  for  their  children  and  grandchildren.  In  most  Okko- 
bor  towns  stands  a  great  tree,  named  "  Ebiribong,"  to 
which  offerings  are  made  twice  a  year,  at  the  planting  of  new 
farms  and  during  the  harvest.  This  is  done  with  the  special 
purpose  of  drawing  down  the  blessing  of  fertility  upon  the 
women  of  the  place,  as  also  upon  farm  and  byre.3  On  the 
plateau  above  James  Town  in  Southern  Nigeria  Mr.  P.  A. 
Talbot  found  a  great  old  tree,  which  had  been  in  past  times 
an  object  of  special  veneration  to  the  people.  Women  from 
all  parts  of  the  district  came  on  long  pilgrimages.  It  was 
supposed  to  have  the  power  of  granting  fertility  to  those  who 
performed  the  necessary  rites,  as  well  as  to  protect  them  in 
childbirth  and  at  all  times  of  danger,*  Among  the  Baras  of 
Madagascar,  in  order  to  obtain  offspring  a  man  will  address 
himself  to  a  tree,  called  sakoa,  a  species  of  fig.  He  clears  a 
space  round  about  the  tree  and  prostrates  himself  at  the  foot 
of  the  tree,  repeating  the  following  vow  :  "  If  my  wife  gives 
me  a  child,  I  will  kill  a  hen  or  a  sheep  to  honour  you,  and  will 
render  you  sacred."  After  that  he  returns  once  a  day  or 
oftener  to  renew  his  prayer  to  the  tree.  If  by  chance  his 

-  cit-  P-  l61-  *  P.  A.  Talbot,  Women's  MysUri** 

1  P.  A,  Talbot,  "  The  Buduma  of  of  a  Primitive  People,  p.  8x. 
Lake   Chad"    (a   typewritten   paper 

sent  me  by  the  author,  who  collected   ,  «  P.  A.  Talbot,  Life  in  Southern 

the  information)  Nigeria,  pp.  303  sq. 


wife  makes  him  a  father  during  the  year,  he  will  sacrifice 
a  hen  or  a  sheep  to  the  spirit  of  the  tree,  and  he  will  declare 
publicly  that  the  tree  is  sacred.  Everyone  will  then  come  to 
ask  something  of  the  sacred  tree  which  has  given  proof  of  its 
fertilizing  power.1 

1  M.  C.  Le  Barbier,  "  Contribution       Madagascar,"     in     I? Anthropologie^ 
&    rfitude    des    Bara-Imamono    de      vol.  31  (Paris,  1921),  pp.  321  sg. 



MANY  relics  of  the  worship  of  trees  have  survived  in  the 
popular  customs  of  Europe,  as  these  are  observed  particu- 
larly on  May  Day  and  Whitsuntide.  These  I  have  dealt  with 
elsewhere.1  Here  I  may  supplement  what  I  have  there  said 
on  English  May  Day  customs  by  some  notices  which  I  have 
not  hitherto  used  of  similar  May  Day  customs,  now,  or 
formerly,  observed  on  May  Day  in  Wales. 

"  The  old  customs  and  superstitions  in  connection  with 
May  Day  are  unknown  in  Wales  at  the  present  day.  Once, 
however,  May  Day  dances  and  revelling  were  most  popular, 
especially  in  Pembrokeshire,  as  the  following  interesting 
account,  which  appeared  in  the  Cambrian  Journal^  proves. 
1  On  May-eve,  the  inhabitants  would  turn  out  in  troops, 
bearing  in  their  hand  boughs  of  thorn  in  full  blossom,  which 
were  bedecked  with  other  flowers,  and  then  stuck  outside 
the  windows  of  the  houses.  Maypoles  were  reared  up  in 
different  parts  of  the  town  (of  Tenby),  decorated  with  flowers, 
coloured  papers,  and  bunches  of  variegated  ribbon,  On 
May  Day  the  young  men  and  women  would,  joining  hand  in 
hand,  dance  round  the  Maypole  and  thread  the  needle,  as  it 
was  termed-  A  group  of  fifty  to  a  hundred  persons  would 
wend  their  way  from  one  pole  to  another,  till  they  had  thus 
traversed  the  town.  Meeting  on  their  way  other  groups  who 
were  coming  from  an  opposite  direction,  both  parties  would 
form  a  ladies*  chain^  and  so  pass  on  their  respective  ways.' 
The  Maypole  was  once  most  popular  in  Wales,  but  the  old 
custom  has  entirely  died  out,  though  we  still  hear  occasionally 

»  The  Golden  Bough:  The  Magic  Art  and  the  Evolution  of  Kings -,  ii.  59-96. 


CHAP,  vil    RELICS  OF  TREE-WORSHIP  IN  EUROPE         151 

of  a  May  Queen  being  selected  in  some  places.  The  May- 
pole in  Wales  was  called  Bedwen,  because  it  is  always  made  of 
birch  which  is  called  in  Welsh  Bedwen,  a  tree  associated  with 
the  gentler  emotions  ;  and,  to  give  a  lover  a  birchen  branch 
is  for  a  maiden  to  accept  his  addresses.  Games  of  various 
sorts  were  played  around  the  bedwen.  The  fame  of  a  village 
depended  on  its  not  being  stolen  away,  and  parties  were  con- 
stantly on  the  alert  to  steal  the  bedwen,  a  feat  which,  when 
accomplished,  was  celebrated  with  peculiar  festivities.  This 
rivalry  for  the  possession  of  the  Maypole  was  probably 
typical  of  the  ancient  idea  that  the  first  of  May  was  the 
boundary  day  dividing  the  confines  of  winter  and  summer, 
when  a  fight  took  place  between  the  powers  of  the  air,  on  the 
one  hand  striving  to  continue  the  reign  of  winter,  on  the  other 
to  establish  that  of  summer."1 

Again  we  read, '"  On  the  morning  of  May  Day — that  is, 
at  the  first  glimmer  of  dawn — the  youths  and  maidens  in 
nearly  every  parish  in  Wales  set  out  to  the  nearest  woodlands. 
The  gay  procession  consisted  of  men  with  horns  and  other 
instruments,  which  were  played,  while  vocalists  sang  the  songs 
of  May-time.  When  the  merry  party  reached  the  woodlands 
each  member  broke  a  bough  off  a  tree  and  decorated  the 
branch  with  flowers  unless  they  were  already  laden  with  May 
blossoms.  A  tall  birch-tree  was  cut  down,  and  borne  on  a 
farm-wagon  drawn  by  oxen  into  the  village.  At  sunrise  the 
young  people  placed  the  branches  of  May  beside  the  doors  or 
in  the  windows  of  their  houses.  This  was  followed  by  the 
ceremony  of  setting  up  the  Maypole  on  the  village  green. 
The  pole  was  decorated  with  nosegays  and  garlands  of  flowers, 
interspersed  with  bright-coloured  ribbon  bows,  rosettes,  and 
streamers.  Then  the  master  of  the  ceremonies,  or  the  leader 
of  the  May  dancers,  would  advance  to  the  pole,  and  tie  a 
gay-coloured  ribbon  round  it.  He  was  followed  by  all  the 
dancers,  each  one  approaching  the  pole  and  tying  a  ribbon 
around  it  until  a  certain  number  had  been  tied.  The  dance 
then  began,  each  dancer  taking  his  or  her  place  according  to 
the  order  in  which  the  ribbons  had  been  arranged  around 
the  pole.  The  dance  was  continued  without  intermission 

1  J.    C.    Davies,   Folklore  of  West  and  Mid-Wales  (Abeiystwyth,  1911), 
p.  76. 

i  S2        RELICS  OF  TREE-WORSHIP  IN  EUROPE    CHAP,  vii 

until  the  party  was  tired,  and  then  other  dancers  took  their 

In  Tuscany  and  Romagna  "  once  the  young  lovers  were 
accustomed  to  plant,  the  first  night  of  May,  a  branch  before 
the  door  of  their  sweethearts  with  gifts  hung  up  :  at  present 
they  bring  it  about  singing.1'  2 

A  somewhat  fuller  description  of  the  Hobby  Horse  on 
May  Day  at  Padstow  runs  as  follows  :  "  The  Hobby  ffoss, 
a  formidable-looking  creature  with  tall  cap,  flowing  plume 
and  tail,  savage  looking  snappers,  and  ferocious  mask,  sallied 
forth,  accompanied  by  the  Pairs,  carrying  each  a  musical 
instrument,  of  which  the  drum  is  the  most  prominent.  Before 
the  Hobby  ffoss  danced  a  man  in  a  terrible  dwarf  mask,  carry- 
ing a  club.  This  dancer  led  the  way  everywhere,  followed 
throughout  the  day  by  the  Hobby  Hoss>  and  a  vast  crowd  of 
men  and  women  gaily  decorated  with  flowers  and  singing  the 
May  songs,  while  the  men  fired  in  all  directions  pistols  loaded 
with  powder/'3 

1  M.  Tievdyao.,  Folk-lore  and  Folk  *  The    Padstow    Hobby    Hoss,    a 
Stories  of  Wales  (London,  1909),  p.  24.  pamphlet  published  by  Williams  and 

2  Extract  from  a  letter  written  to  me  Son,  Padstow,  1903.     Cf.  The  Magic 
by    Mr.    Ludovico    Limentani    and  Art   and   the    Evolution    of  JCings, 
dated  Ferrara,  Via   Columbara   36,  pp.  67 

20th  Sept.  1912. 



ELSEWHERE  I  have  shown  that  in  the  opinions  of  many  peoples 
the  intercourse  of  the  human  sexes  has  a  potent  influence  in 
stimulating  the  growth  of  vegetation,  particularly  of  the 
food-bearing  plants  or  trees  on  which  man  is  in  large  measure 
dependent  for  his  subsistence.  Where  such  beliefs  prevail 
the  intercourse  of  the  sexes  is  often  regulated  at  the  seasons 
of  sowing  and  planting  by  rules  which  have  for  their  object 
to  promote  the  growth  of  the  crops.1  Jhus,  for  example, 
among  the  Banyankole  of  Uganda,  cc  during  the  time  of  the 
sowing,  husband  and  wife  had  to  be  careful  to  have  sexual 
relations  only  with  each  other,  lest  the  seeds  should  fail  to 
germinate  and  the  weeds  grow."2  Again,  among  the  Fan 
or  Pangwe  of  West  Africa,  the  night  before  a  man  sows 
earth-nuts  he  has  intercourse  with  his  wife  for  the  purpose  of 
promoting  the  growth  of  the  earth-nuts,  which  he  will  plant 
next  morning.8 

The  belief  in  the  fertilizing  influence  of  the  human  sexes 
on  vegetation  is  brought  out  in  the  most  unmistakable 
manner  in  the  rites  observed  by  the  Kiwai  of  British  New 
Guinea  in  the  planting  of  the  yam,  sweet-potato,  sugar-cane, 
banana,  and  so  forth.  Details  of  the  rites  will  be  found  in 
the  work  of  Professor  Landtman  on  the  Kiwai.  Here  I 
will  only  mention  that  for  the  purpose  of  fertilizing  the  sago- 
palm  these  people  resort  to  promiscuous  sexual  intercourse, 
in  order  to  obtain  the  life-giving  fluid  which  is  to  be  directly 

1  The  Magic  Art  and  the  Evolution          •  G.  Tessmann,  Die  Pangwe,  pp. 
of  Kings i  ii.  97  sqq.  90 

1  J.  Roscoe,  The  Banyankole^  p.  97. 


applied  to  the  trunks  of  the  sago-palms.1 

A  power  of  fertilizing  the  food-plants  has  sometimes  been 
ascribed  to  twins  or  to  the  parents  of  twins,  who  have  given  a 
living  proof  of  their  fecundity  in  the  birth  of  the  twins.2 
Thus  among  the  Basoga  of  the  Central  district  on  the  northern 
shore  of  Lake  Victoria  Nyanza,  "  when  a  woman  has  twins, 
the  people  to  whose  clan  she  belongs  do  not  sow  any  seed 
until  the  twins  have  been  brought  to  the  field.  A  pot  of 
cooked*  grain  is  set  before  the  children  with  a  cake  of  sesame 
and  all  the  seed  that  is  to  be  sown.  The  food  is  eaten  by 
the  people  assembled  and  afterwards  the  seed  is  sown  in  the 
presence  of  the  twins  ;  the  plot  is  then  said  to  be  the  field  of 
the  twins.  The  mother  of  the  twins  must  sow  her  seed  before 
any  of  the  clan  will  sow  theirs."  3  Some  African  peoples 
suppose  that  the  parents  of  twins  possess  the  further  power  of 
multiplying  animal  life.  Thus  with  reference  to  the  tribes 
inhabiting  the  great  plateau  of  Northern  Rhodesia,  we  are 
told  that  "  pigeon  cotes  are  erected  in  the  majority  of  villages. 
The  first  stakes  of  such  cotes  are  driven  in  by  a  woman  who 
has  borne  twins,  in  order,  they  say,  that  the  pigeons  may 
multiply.1'  4  On  this  subject  another  writer,  speaking  of  the 
Bantu  tribes  of  Central  Africa,  observes  "  in  laying  the  foun- 
dations of  pigeon  houses,  chicken  houses,  or  goat  pens,  or 
anything  for  breeding  purposes,  a  similar  favourable  conces- 
sion is  made  to  either  a  father  or  a  mother  of  twin  children. 
It  is  supposed  to  have  a  beneficial  or  prolific  effect.  There  is 
a  native  woman  I  know  who  has  had  twins  three  times,  and 
she  is  in  great  demand  for  laying  the  foundations  of  pigeon 
and  chicken  houses,  goat  and  sheep  pens,  and  even  a  cattle 

The  belief  in  the  influence  which  the  human  sexes  exercise 
on  the  growth  of  plants  is  further  proved  by  the  rule  of  con- 
tinence which  some  people  impose  on  persons  at  sowing  or 
planting  the  food-crops.  Thus  among  the  Berbers  of 

1  G.  Landtman,  The  Kiwai  Papu-  p.  235. 

ans  of  British  New  Guinea,  pp.  70,  *  „    ^     ,  ,  ,               ,   _      «, 

76,  78,  79  *!•>  Si  sq.9  84,  90;  ioi  *  C.  Gouldsbuiy  and  H.  Sheane, 

357  *f.,  355  *q.  Tke     &*<**    *******    of    Northern 

«  The  Magic  Art  and  the  Evolution  *******  (London,  191  1),  p.  307. 

.  102  sg.  *  D.    Campbell,     T**    Heart    of 

J.  Roscoe,  The  Northern  6antu>      Bantuland,  p.  155. 


Morocco,  "  sexual  cleanness  is  required  with  those  who  have 
anything  to  do  with  the  corn  ;  for  such  persons  are  otherwise 
supposed  to  pollute  its  holiness,  and  also,  in  many  cases,  to 
do  injury  to  themselves.  In  most  parts  of  Morocco  it  is  con- 
sidered necessary  for  the  ploughman  to  be  sexually  clean  ; 
otherwise  there  will  be  no  baraka  (holiness)  in  the  seed,  or 
there  will  grow  mostly  grass  and  weeds  on  the  field.  So  also 
the  reapers  and  anybody  who  comes  to  the  threshing-floor 
when  the  corn  is  there  must  be  clean  ;  and  the  same  is  the  case 
with  the  women  who  clear  the  crops  of  weeds  in  the  spring, 
lest  their  work  should  be  without  result  and  they  should 
become  ill  themselves.  If  an  unclean  person  goes  into  a 
granary,  it  is  believed  that  not  only  will  the  grain  lose  its 
baraka,  but  that  he  himself  will  fall  ill.  ...  Nor  must  an 
unclean  individual  enter  the  vegetable  garden,  for  such  a 
visit  would  do  harm  both  to  the  garden  and  to  the  person  who 
went  there."  *  Again,  among  the  Bakongo  of  the  Lower 
Congo,  "  women  must  remain  chaste  while  planting  pumpkin 
and  calabash  seeds,  and  they  must  wash  their  hands  before 
touching  the  seeds.  Neither  may  they  eat  pig-meat  during 
the  planting  of  these  particular  seeds.  If  a  woman  does  not 
observe  these  taboos,  she  must  not  plant  the  seeds,  or  the  crop 
will  be  a  failure  ;  she  may  make  the  holes,  and  her  baby  girl, 
or  another  who  has  obeyed  the  restrictions,  can  drop  in  the 
seed  and  cover  them  over."  2  Again,  among  the  Fan  or 
Pangwe  of  West  Africa,  the  women  who  have  planted  the 
yams  are  bound  to  remain  chaste  for  three  months  after  the 
planting,  for  if  they  were  to  break  this  rule  it  is  believed  the 
yams  would  fail  to  grow,  or  would  be  devastated  by  grubs.8 

Among  the  Oraons  of  Chota  Nagpur  in  India  the  night 
before  a  husbandman  goes  to  sow  the  first  seeds  of  the  rice, 
he  remains  sexually  continent  and  does  not  lie  on  the  same 
bed  with  his  wife.4  The  Bare'e-speaking  Toradyas  of  Central 
Celebes  remain  chaste  during  the  harvest,  for  they  believe 
that  otherwise  the  rice  would  diminish  in  quantity.5 

Again,  many  peoples  believe  that  sexual  offences,  and 

1  E.    Westennarck,    The    Moorish          *  G.  Tessman,  Die  Pangwe,  p.  98. 
Conception     of    Holiness     (Baraka),          4  S.  C.  Roy,  72*  Or****,  p.  142. 

2  J.  H.  Weeks,  Among  the  Primi-          *  N.  Adrian!  and  A.  C  Kruijt,  op. 
tive  Bakongo,  p.  252.  cit  ii.  274. 


particularly  incest,  have  the  effect  of  blighting  the  crop. 
Hence  among  the   Bare'e-speaking   Toradyas   of   Central 
Celebes,  'before  planting  rice,  generally  before  clearing  the 
ground,  there  is  a  ceremony  called  "  the  driving  away  of 
sins."    The  sin  here  contemplated  is  incest,  which  is  supposed 
to  spoil  the  rice,  either  through  severe  drought  or  heavy  rain. 
The  more  venial  incest  (between  uncle  and  niece  or  aunt  and 
nephew),  is  expiated  by  a  sacrifice  called  "  covering  the  sky," 
because  it  hides  the  sin  on  earth  from  the  dwellers  in  heaven. 
Incest  may  escape  detection.     Even  the  report  of  incest 
committed  is  enough  to  draw  down  the  calamitous  conse- 
quences on  the  land.    Hence,  to  make  sure,  the  Toradyas  offer 
this  atoning  sacrifice  every  year.     It  is  sometimes  called 
"  asking  for  rain."     Almost  all  the  inhabitants  of  the  village 
repair  to  the  bank  of  a  river.    A  great  stone  is  then  placed  on 
the  way  leading  to  the  river,  to  close  it.     A  sacrificial  table 
is  set  up  and  a  pig  tied  to  the  foot  of  it.     The  leader,  with  one 
foot  on  the  pig,  spits  betel  in  the  air,  and  invokes  the  gods. 
He  prays  :  "  O  gods  above  and  gods  below,  perhaps  we  have 
sinned  with  mouth  or  hands  or  feet ;   perhaps  our  ears  have 
heard  the  sin  of  men  of  another  village.     We  have  put  away 
our  sinful  ears  and  mouths.     Here  are  a  pig,  a  buffalo,  and  a 
goat.     In  return  we  ask  you  to  give  us  rain.     If  you  give  no 
rain,  what  shall  we  eat  this  year  ?     Saroe  and  Sarengge  (two 
spirits  whose  bodily  hair  is  in  the  form  of  rice  stalks),  we  give 
you  this  that  you  may  give  us  rain."     Then  the  pig  is  killed, 
and  its  blood  is  dabbed  on  the  cheeks  and  foreheads  of  the 
people.    Also  the  sacrificial  victims  are  killed  and  cooked, 
and  their  livers  offered.    Meantime  a  small  ship  has  been 
laden  with  rice,  coins,  betel,  tobacco,  cloth,  and  so  forth,  to 
which  every  person  present  must   contribute.      Then  the 
people  are  beaten  with  prickly  plants  to  drive  out  all  guilt. 
Finally  the  little  ship  is  allowed  to  drift  down  the  stream. 
Afterwards  the  people  splash  water  on  each  other  as  a  rain- 
charm.    The  stone  is  then  removed  from  the  path,  with  the 
words,  "  Lightness  in  the  stone,  heaviness  in  the  rice."1 

1  N.  Adrian!  and  A.  C,  Kruijt,  op.  cit.  ii.  247  sq. 



THE  mimic  marriage  of  the  king  and  queen  of  May  in 
Europe  was  probably  in  origin  a  magical  rite  intended  to 
promote  the  growth  of  plant-life  in  spring  by  representing 
dramatically  the  bridal  of  a  young  man  and  a  young  woman 
who  personated  the  male  and  female  powers  of  vegetation. 
A  similar  ceremony  is  still  observed  in  spring  by  some  of  the 
Berbers  of  Morocco,  and  it  has  been  interpreted  in  a  similar 
sense  by  the  French  writer  who  reports  it.  The  ceremony 
takes  place  at  the  little  village  of  Douzrou  in  the  Anti-Atlas 
Mountains,  and  the  time  of  it  is  the  return  of  spring.  In  the 
morning,  at  daybreak,  the  young  girls  of  the  village  go  out 
into  the  forest  to  pluck  grass  and  gather  dead  wood.  Their 
return  is  signalled  by  the  shot  of  a  musket.  Immediately  the 
women  remaining  in  the  village  advance  to  meet  them,  escort- 
ing a  young  girl  called  the  Bride  of  the  Good  (Fiancee  du 
Bieri).  The  bride,  apparelled  as  for  a  wedding/  dressed 
entirely  in  white,  is  mounted  upon  a  white  she-ass,  and  holds 
in  her  hands  a  white  hen.  When  the  two  processions  meet 
the  young  girls  put  down  their  bundles  of  grass,  and  begin  to 
dance,  singing  some  such  words  as  these  : 

We  shall  accompany  the  bride  of  the  good  to  the  mosque  of  the  village. 
That  God  may  bring,  for  the  Musulmans,  health  and  abundance. 

For  their  part,  the  boys  go  into  the  gardens  to  gather 
wood,  which  they  take  to  the  mosque.  Then,  like  their  sisters, 
they  go  into  the  forest  to  gather  dry  grass.  They  have  chosen 
from  among  them  a  young  man  who  is  the  Bridegroom  of  the 
Good  (Fiance  du  Bien).  Dressed  in  white  like  the  bride,  he 

157  M 


is  also  mounted  upon  a  white  male  ass,  and  holds  in  his  hands 
a  cock  of  white  plumage.     He  goes  at  the  head  of  the  small 
procession  which  makes  its  way  into  the  fields  ;  but  when  they 
have  got  half-way  his  companions  leave  him,  committing  him 
to  the  care  of  one  of  their  number  who  stays  by  him,  armed 
with  a  musket  to  protect  him  against  the  evil  spirits,  or  jinn. 
Then  the  boys,  bringing  armfuls  of  grass,  return  and  take 
their  places  round  the  bridegroom.     Then  one  of  them  hobbles 
the  feet  of  the  ass,  and  with  the  same  rope  ties  the  neck  of  the 
bridegroom,  who  is  stooping  over  the  shoulders  of  his  mount. 
At  this  moment  the  guardian  fires  a  shot  with  his  musket. 
This  signal,  heard  in  the  village,  excites  there  a  lively  agita- 
tion.    The  men,  seizing  their  arms,  rush  towards  the  bride, 
seated  upon  her  ass  in  the  centre  of  the  group  of  women,  and 
lead  her,  in  wild  career,  towards  the  hobbled  bridegroom. 
They  call  out,  "  Hold  on.     Do  not  fall,  that  the  new  year  may 
be  favourable  to  us.     Do  not  fall."     The  procession  stops 
near  the  bridegroom.     Then,  without  losing  a  moment,  the 
young  girl  cuts  with  a  knife  the  rope  that  binds  the  bride- 
groom, after  which  she  calls  out :  "  We  have  cut  the  neck  of 
Hunger :    May  God  resuscitate  the  neck  of  the  Good." 
Accompanied  by  the  young  man  who  guards  the  bridegroom, 
the  bride  then  returns  alone  to  the  village,  and  when  she  has 
taken  her  place  among  the  women,  her  guardian  discharges 
his  musket.    This  is  another  signal,  for  at  once  the  men  and 
boys  lead,  with  the  same  precipitation,  the  now  delivered 
bridegroom.    They  shout  to  him  from  all  sides,  "  Hold  on. 
Do  not  fall,  that  the  new  year  may  be  favourable  to  us." 
Songs,  dances,  cries,  and  musket-shots  announce  the  happy 
return  of  the  bridegroom.     That  ends  the  first  part  of  the 
ceremony.    Doubtless  the  bridegroom,  freed  from  his  bonds 
and  returning  triumphant,  personifies  the  renewal  of  Nature, 
and  the  bride  the  spirit  of  vegetation.     Their  union  is  ex- 
pected to  influence  the  renewal  of  the  life  of  spring  and 
render  it  fertile.     The  bride  and  bridegroom  side  by  side 
now  march  at  the  head  of  the  procession,  in  which  the 
boys  follow  behind  the  bridegroom  and  the  girls  behind  the 
bride,  all  singing,  but  without  mingling  with  each  other. 
The  happy  crowd  repeats  incessantly.  "We  are  bringing 
back  the  Good." 


In  this  curious  and  picturesque  array  the  emblematic 
couple  are  conducted  to  the  mosque.  Bride  and  bridegroom 
alone  enter  the  sanctuary,  in  accordance  with  prescribed 
custom.  The  two  doors  close  upon  them.  Upon  the  thres- 
hold of  one  the  crowd  remains,  keeping  silence  :  on  the  other 
a  severe  guardian,  his  musket  loaded,  mounts  guard,  and 
keeps  at  a  distance  the  curious  and  indiscreet  who  might  wish 
to  pierce  the  mystery  that  is  taking  place  in  the  temple, 
become,  for  an  hour,  the  scene  of  sacred  prostitution.  What 
takes  place  there  is  little  known  ;  but  it  is  said  that  the  bride 
and  bridegroom  go  to  the  place  called  "  The  Tomb  of  the 
Archangel  Gabriel,"  and  that  there  the  bridegroom  cuts  the 
throat  of  the  white  cock  which  he  has  not  abandoned  in  the 
course  of  the  preceding  ceremonies,  and  then  does  the  same 
to  the  white  hen  of  his  bride.  After  having  cooked  and  eaten 
the  flesh  of  the  two  victims,  he  claims  the  rights  which  his 
bride  does  not  contest,  for  on  the  consummation  of  their  tran- 
sitory union  depends  the  prosperity  of  the  clan.  When 
night  falls  the  bride  and  bridegroom  separate  to  follow  different 
paths.  Then  follows  the  third  and  last  act  of  the  ceremony,  a 
tragic  act,  in  the  course  of  which  the  bride  is  to  die.  The 
bride  and  bridegroom  separate  and  each  go  towards  a  door 
of  the  sanctuary.  "  Fire  !  "  cries  the  bridegroom  to  his 
guardian.  At  this  signal  the  men  rush  towards  the  bride- 
groom's door,  and  kindle  large  heaps  of  dry  grass  which  are 
placed  there.  And  when  the  bridegroom  comes  forth  he  is 
confronted  by  high  flames  which  he  leaps  over  at  a  single 
bound,  while  the  bride,  languid  and  exhausted,  lets  herself 
fall  into  the  small  fire  that  her  sisters  have  kindled  for 
her  at  her  door.  It  is  further  said  that  the  young  people  of 
the  village  imitate  the  example  set  by  the  bride  and  bride- 
groom of  the  good,  to  facilitate,  in  the  same  manner,  the  return 
of  the  life  of  the  spring.  They  meet  in  couples  in  a  public 
place,  and  pass  together,  the  girls  and  boys,  that  which  they 
call  "  the  night  of  happiness."  * 

This  Berber  ceremony  furnishes  an  example  of  what  we 
may  call  a  sacred  marriage,  that  is,  a  marriage  of  two  divini- 
ties, one  or  both  of  whom  are  represented  by  living  human 
beings.  Antiquity  furnishes  examples  of  such  sacred  mar- 

1  E.  Laoust,  Mots  et  choses  bcrblres,  p.  191. 


riages  in  which  living  women  were  wedded  to  the  gods,1 
and  in  India  similar  ceremonies  are  still  performed.     Thus, 
among  the  Ra  Deo  of  Malana,  a  village  in  the  Punjab, 
"  there  is  a  peculiar  custom  in  connection  with  the  worship  of 
Jamlu,  namely,   the  dedication  to  him  of  a  handmaiden 
(called  Sita),  taken  from  a  family  of  the  Nar  caste  resident  at 
Manikaran.     The  handmaiden  is  presented  as  a  wife  to  the 
god  at  a  festival  (kaika),  which  occurs  at  irregular  intervals 
of  several  years,  on  the  first  of  Bhadron.     On  dedication  to  the 
god  the  girl,  who  is  four  or  five  years  old,  receives  a  gift  of  a 
complete  set  of  valuable  ornaments  from  the  shrine.     She 
remains  in  her  parents'  house,  getting  clothes  and  ornaments 
at  intervals.     If  she  goes  to  Malana  she  is  fed.     She  does 
nothing  in  the  way  of  worship  of  Jamlu.     When  she  is  15 
or  16  years  old  a  new  handmaiden  is  appointed  in  her  place. 
She  is  supposed  to  be  really  a  virgin  while  she  is  Jamlu's 
wife."  2    Again,  "  in  old  days  in  the  Panjab  a  Dhimar  or 
water-carrier  girl  used  to  be  married  to  Bhairon,  an  old  Earth 
godling,  at  his  shrine  in  Baodada  in  Rewari,  but  it  is  said  that 
she  always  died  soon  after.     The   Bharbhunjar  or  grain- 
parchers  in  the  Gurgaon  District  of  the  same  Province  wor- 
ship Bhairon,  to  whom  the  Mallah  boatmen  of  Agra  used  to 
marry  their  daughters.     It  is  said  that  the  godling  once 
saved  a  sinking  boat,  and  ever  after  the  family  which  owned 
it  used  to  marry  one  of  their  girls  to  him,  leaving  her  at  his 
shrine  where  she  survived  for  less  than  a  year  ;  but  now  only 
a  doll  made  of  dough  is  formally  wedded.     In  the  Central 
Provinces  a  Jain  bride  was,  it  is  said,  locked  up  in  a  temple 
and  was  considered  to  be  the  bride  of  the  Tirthankara  or 
saint  to  whom  the  temple  was  dedicated,  but  now  she  is 
locked  up  there  only  for  a  minute  or  two,  and  is  then  released. " 3 
In  the  second  half  of  the  seventeenth  century  a  case  of  a 
sacred  marriage  was  reported  by  the  French  traveller  Bernier 
at  Juggernaut,  a  town  of  Bengal.     He  says,  "  The  brahmins 
select  a  beautiful  maiden  for  the  bride  of  Juggernaut,  who 
accompanies  the  god  to  the  temple  with  all  the  pomp  and 

1  See    The    Mafic    Art    and   the      hore,  1913),  iii.  265. 
Evolution  of  Kings,  ii.  129  sqq. 

*•*'?'  ^  £°Se'  A  Glossary  °f  th*  *  W.  Crooke  (and  R.  E.  Enthoven), 
Tribes  and  Castes  of  the  Punjab  and  Religion  and  Folklore  of  Northern 
North-West  Frontier  Province  (La-  India  (Oxford,  1926),  p.  246, 


ceremony  which  I  have  noticed,  where  she  remains  the  whole 
night,  having  been  made  to  believe  that  Juggernaut  will  come 
and  lie  with  her.  She  is  commanded  to  enquire  of  the  god  if 
the  year  will  be  fruitful,  and  what  will  be  the  processions,  the 
festivals,  the  prayers,  and  the  alms  which  he  requires  in  return 
for  his  bounty.  In  the  night  one  of  the  brahmins  enters  the 
temple  through  a  small  back  door,  enjoys  the  unsuspecting 
damsel,  makes  her  believe  whatever  may  be  deemed  neces- 
sary, and  the  following  morning  when  on  her  way  to  another 
temple,  whither  she  is  carried  with  the  usual  forms  and 
magnificence,  she  is  desired  by  the  brahmins  to  state  aloud  to 
the  people  all  she  has  heard  from  the  lustful  priest,  as  if  every 
word  had  proceeded  from  the  mouth  of  Juggernaut."  *  This 
form  of  the  sacred  marriage  was  still  continued  at  the  town 
of  Juggernaut  down  at  least  to  about  the  beginning  of  the 
nineteenth  century.2 

The  Oraons  of  Chota  Nagpur  in  Bengal  worship  the  Sun 
as  a  God  and  the  Earth  as  a  Goddess,  his  wife.  They  celebrate 
the  marriage  of  the  two  deities  every  year  at  the  time  when 
the  sal  tree  is  in  blossom.  In  the  marriage  ceremony  the 
Sun-God  is  represented  by  the  priest  and  the  Earth-Goddess 
by  his  wife.  I  have  described  the  ceremony  elsewhere.3  It 
has  since  been  described  in  much  greater  detail  by  the  eminent 
Indian  ethnographer,  Sarat  Chandra  Roy  ;  4  but  his  descrip- 
tion is  too  long  for  quotation. 

In  Africa  the  gods  of  the  Baganda  had  human  mediums 
who  acted  purely  as  the  mouthpieces  of  the  deities.  "  When 
a  woman  was  chosen  to  be  a  medium,  she  was  separated  from 
men,  and  had  to  observe  the  laws  of  chastity  for  the  rest  of  her 
life  ;  she  was  looked  upon  as  the  wife  of  the  god." 5  Nende, 
one  of  the  war-gods  of  the  Baganda,  had  six  human  wives 
who  were  princesses,  and  these  never  left  the  sacred  enclosure 
when  once  they  had  been  dedicated  to  the  deity.  They  had 
seats  in  the  temple,  on  either  side  of  the  dais  on  which  the  god 

1  F.  Bernier,  Travels  in  the  Mogul      continues.** 

Empire ,  trans.   T.   Brock,   (London,  8  The  Magic  Art  and  the  Evolution 

1826),  ii.  7,  of  Kings,  ii.  148. 

2  J.     Forbes,     Oriental    Memoirs  4  S.  C.  Roy,  Oraon  Religion  and 
(London,    1813),   who   after   quoting  Custom    (Ranchi,     1928),     pp.     193 
Bernier's  account  adds,   "  it  is  well  sqq* 

known  that  this  infamous  practice  still          6  J.  Roscoe,  The  Baganda,  p.  275. 


was  supposed  to  sit.1  At  Ngeri-gbaw-ama,  amongst  the 
Ijaw  of  Southern  Nigeria,  there  is  worshipped  a  water-spirit 
who  is  represented  by  a  great  python.  To  his  shrine  women 
who  aspire  to  be  diviners  or  prophetesses  resort.  These 
women  used  to  hold  a  great  position  in  the  tribe,  and  nothing 
of  importance  was  done  without  their  inspired  counsel.  They 
are  hedged  round  with  many  taboos  and  in  ancient  times  were 
allowed  no  human  husband,  since  they  were  regarded  as 
wedded  to  one  of  the  sacred  serpents.  The  water-spirit  is 
supposed  to  rise  out  of  the  river  every  eighth  day  ;  on  that 
day,  therefore,  she  keeps  herself  untouched,  sleeps  alone,  does 
not  leave  the  house  after  dark,  and  pours  libations  before  the 
symbols  of  the  water-spirit.2 

The  Tumbuka  of  the  Nyasa  region  in  East  Africa  wor- 
shipped a  god  Chinkang'onme  whose  body  is  said  to  resemble 
that  of  a  great  snake,  with  a  mane  like  that  of  a  lion.  Now 
and  then  a  girl  was  dedicated  to  the  god  to  be  his  wife.  After 
this  dedication  she  lived  apart,  and  was  greatly  honoured. 
She  dressed  her  hair  with  beads  to  resemble  the  mane  of  the 
god,  and  remained  throughout  her  life  unmarried.  In  her 
the  deity  was  believed  to  be  incarnate.3 

Elsewhere  I  have  suggested  that  stories  like  that  of  Andro- 
meda, in  which  the  heroine  is  exposed  to  a  sea-monster,  may 
reflect  an  ancient  custom  of  sacrificing  virgins  to  water- 
spirits  to  be  their  wives.4 

Here  I  may  cite  a  few  African  instances  of  human  victims, 
especially  girls  or  virgins  sacrificed  to  water-spirits.  Almost 
all  over  the  Western  or  French  Sudan  towards  the  beginning 
of  May,  after  the  first  day  of  heavy  rain,  a  procession  took 
place  which  was  destined  to  call  down  from  heaven  a  benedic- 
tion on  the  fields.  At  Bamaka  this  procession  ended  with  a 
sacrifice  offered  on  the  banks  of  the  Niger  to  the  spirit  of  the 
river,  a  sacrifice  which,  before  the  French  occupation,  con- 
sisted in  throwing  into  the  river  a  virgin  who  was  devoured  by 
the  crocodile  representing  the  spirit  of  the  water.5 

Again,  at  Mahilane  on  the  seashore,  in  the  territory  of  the 

1  J.  Roscoe,  op.  tit.  p.  308.  *  The  Magic  Art  and  the  Evolution 

*P.  A.  Talbot,  The  Peoples  of  of  Kings,  ii.  155  sq. 

Southern  Nigeria^  ii.  100  sq*  *  M.  Delafosse,  H out- Senegal- Niger 

3  D.  Fraser,  Winning  *  Primitive  (Soudan  Franfais)  (Paris, 

People,  p.  122.  pp.  m 


Ronga  or  Thonga  tribe,  "  there  are  two  great  rocks  on  the 
beach.  When  the  great  waves  dash  against  them  with  a 
fearful  roar,  people  go  and  sacrifice  :  they  pray  thus  :  '  Oh 
sea,  let  vessels  be  wrecked,  and  steamers  also,  and  let  their 
riches  come  to  us  and  help  us.'  In  former  times  a  young  girl 
was  sometimes  exposed  there  as  a  prey,  or  an  offering  to  the 
power  of  Mahilane."  *  The  Bangala  of  the  Upper  Congo 
think  that  the  river  is  haunted  by  certain  malevolent  water- 
spirits  who  do  their  best  to  hinder  all  fishing  operations. 
Hence  it  was  no  uncommon  thing,  when  a  village  was  un- 
successful in  its  fishing,  for  the  inhabitants  to  join  their  brass 
rods  together  to  buy  an  old  man  or  old  woman — old  by  pre- 
ference, because  cheap — and  throw  him  or  her  into  the  water 
to  appease  these  water-spirits.8  Among  the  Baganda  of 
Central  Africa  "  certain  wells  have  been  famous  for  many 
generations  ;  they  are  thought  to  have  been  protected  by  the 
special  intervention  of  water-spirits  ;  they  were  passed  down 
from  family  to  family,  or  from  chief  to  chief,  and  were  vener- 
ated and  kept  sacred.  In  some  places  a  new  chief,  on  his 
appointment  to  the  charge  of  the  district,  offered  a  human 
sacrifice  ;  oftentimes  he  had  to  take  for  this  purpose  his  own 
child,  whom  he  offered  to  the  water-spirit  at  the  well,  as  a 
means  of  securing  prosperity.  In  other  places  an  animal  was 
offered,  and  the  people  assembled  to  eat  a  sacred  meal  and  to 
drink  beer  by  the  well ;  after  the  meal  the  chief  placed  a  new 
hoe  in  a  shrine  which  had  been  built  for  the  water-spirit  by 
the  well.11 8 

Again,  the  ancient  Chinese  used  to  worship  the  god  of  the 
Hoang-ho  or  Yellow  River,  whom  they  called  by  a  name 
which  we  may  translate  by  the  Count  of  the  River.  He  is 
described  as  a  tall  being  with  the  face  of  a  man  and  the  body 
of  a  fish  ;  sometimes  he  is  said  to  ride  in  a  chariot  drawn  by 
two  dragons.  The  great  seat  of  his  worship  was  at  the 
confluence  of  the  Yellow  River  and  the  River  Lo,  the  very 
heart  of  ancient  China.  There  the  water-god  was  honoured 
with  splendid  dramatic  ceremonies,  in  which  human  beings 

1  H.  A.  Junod,  The  Life  of  a  South  (1910)  p.  370.    Cf.  id.,  Among  Congo 

African  Tribe,  ii.  825.  Cannibals,  pp.  98  j?. 

*  J.  H.  Weeks,  in  Journal  of  the 

Royal  Anthropological  Institute,  xl.  •  J.  Roscoe,  The  Baganda,  p  458, 


were  drowned.  White  horses  were  also  sacrificed  to  him  by 
being  plunged  in  his  stream.1  Tradition  runs  that  formerly 
it  was  the  custom  to  provide  the  Yellow  River  every  year  with 
a  bride.  The  marriage  was  celebrated  at  Ye  on  the  river. 
There  a  college  of  witches  was  entrusted  with  the  duty  of 
annually  choosing  a  beautiful  girl  to  be  the  bride  of  the  water- 
god.  The  chosen  maiden  was  bathed,  dressed  in  red  gar- 
ments, and  shut  up  in  a  red  tent,  where  she  was  fed  on  beef 
and  wine,  but  in  other  respects  had  to  observe  rigid 
abstinence.  After  ten  days'  seclusion  in  the  tent  she  was 
dressed  as  a  bride  and  placed  on  a  nuptial  couch  which  was 
set  floating  on  the  river  ;  and  down  the  stream  it  drifted  until 
it  sank  with  the  maiden  into  the  depths.  Thus  the  mortal 
bride  was  committed  to  the  arms  of  her  immortal  bridegroom. 
All  the  nobles  and  the  people  in  their  thousands  witnessed 
these  nuptials  of  the  river-god.  In  the  year  417  B.C.  the 
Emperor  Tsin,  the  founder  of  a  new  dynasty,  began  the 
practice  of  thus  marrying  royal  princesses  to  the  god  of  the 
river  ;  as  an  upstart  he  desired  to  strengthen  his  claim  to  the 
imperial  throne  by  making  the  river-god  his  kinsman  by 
marriage.  But  not  long  afterwards  the  barbarous  custom 
was  abolished  by  the  Marquis  Wen  de  Wei  (428-387  B.C.),  a 
disciple  of  Confucius.2 

Water-spirits  are  often  thought  to  bestow  offspring  on 
childless  women.  To  the  examples  of  this  belief  which  I  have 
given  elsewhere 3  may  now  be  added  the  following  :  at 
Gujarat  in  India  "  waterfalls  are  not  very  familiar  to  the 
people.  There  is  a  belief,  however,  that  barren  couples 
obtain  issue  if  they  bathe  in  a  waterfall,  and  offer  a  coconut."  4 
In  the  Bombay  Presidency,  "  About  a  month  and  a  quarter 
after  the  delivery  of  a  woman,  a  ceremony  called  Zarmazaryan, 
is  performed,  when  the  woman  goes  to  a  neighbouring  stream 
or  well  to  fetch  water  for  the  first  time  after  her  delivery. 
Near  the  stream  or  well  five  small  heaps  of  sand  are  made  and 

1  M,  Granet,  Danses  et  Ugendes  de      Lore  in  the  Old  Testament,  ii.  414  sag. 

JSjf    Ckint    (ParfS'    I926)'    "•          •  n.  Magic  Art  ^  *  ft*. 

2  M.  Granet,  op.  tit.  ii.  473-478.      twn  °f  &*&>%•  *59  W- 

For  other  sacrifices  to  water-spirits,  see  *  A.  M.  T.  Jackson,  Folklore  oj 
my  commentary  on  Ovid,  Book  v.  Gujarat,  p.  40  (appended  to  the 
line  621,  vol.  iv.  pp.  99-109,  and  Folk-  Indian  Antiquary,  xli,  1912), 


daubed  with  red  lead.  Next,  a  lamp  fed  with  ghi  is  lighted, 
and  seven  small  betel-nuts  are  offered  to  the  stream  or  well. 
A  coconut  is  then  broken,  and  a  part  of  it  thrown  into  the 
water  as  an  offering.  Next,  the  woman  fills  a  jar  with  the 
water  of  the  stream  or  well  and  returns  home,  taking  with  her 
six  out  of  the  seven  betel-nuts  offered  to  the  stream  or  well. 
On  her  way  home  she  is  approached  by  barren  women,  who 
request  to  be  favoured  with  one  of  the  betel-nuts,  as  it  is 
believed  that  swallowing  such  a  betel-nut  causes  conception. 
Some  believe  that  only  the  smallest  of  the  seven  betel-nuts 
has  the  power  of  producing  this  result.  Others  hold  that 
this  betel-nut  must  be  swallowed  on  the  threshold  of  a 
house.'1  *  Again,  in'  the  country  of  the  Ait  Sadden,  a 
Berber  tribe  of  Morocco,  there  is  a  river  called  Igi  with  a 
waterfall,  named  Amazzer.  Barren  women  resort  to  the 
waterfall  to  obtain  offspring.  They  hope  to  obtain  the  wish 
of  their  hearts  by  pouring  the  water  from  the  waterfall 
down  their  backs.  When  Professor  Westermarck  asked  his 
informant  whether  there  was  a  saint  at  the  waterfall,  the  man 
smilingly  answered  that  he  did  not  know.2 

1  R.    E.     Enthoven,    Folklore    of      Conception  of  Holiness  (Baraka),  pp. 
Bombay t  p.  288.  54  sq. 

*  E.    Westermarck,    The    Moorish 



ELSEWHERE  I  have  argued  that  in  ancient  Rome  the  Vestal 

Virgins  were  of  old  the  King's  daughters,  charged  with  the 

duty  of  maintaining  the  fire  on  the  royal  hearth,  and  supposed 

to  be  the  wives  of  the  fire-god.1    With  these  Roman  Vestals 

we  may  compare  the  African  Vestals,  who  in  Uganda  are 

charged  with  the  duty  of  maintaining  the  perpetual  fire  in  the 

temples  of  the  gods.     Of  these  latter  Canon  Roscoe  has  given 

us  the  following  account :  *'  In  most  of  the  temples  there  were 

a  number  of  young  girls  dedicated  to  the  god.     Their  special 

duties  were  to  keep  guard  over  the  fire  in  the  temple,  which 

had  to  be  kept  burning  by  day  and  by  night ;   to  see  that 

nothing  which  was  taboo  was  brought  into  the  temple ;   to 

provide  an  ample  supply  of  firewood  and  water  ;  to  keep  the 

grass  floor-covering  replenished  ;  and  especially  to  guard  the 

sacred  pipe  and  tobacco  which  were  used  by  the  medium  before 

giving  the  oracle.    The  persons  of  these  girls  were  sacred, 

and  men  had  to  be  careful  not  to  be  unduly  familiar  with 

them,  nor  to  attempt  to  take  any  liberties  with  them.     These 

girls  were  brought  to  the  temple  when  they  were  weaned ; 

they  were  offerings  of  parents  who  had  prayed  to  the  god  for 

children,  promising  to  devote  them  to  his  service  if  he  granted 

their  request.    When  such  a  girl  was  born,  she  was  dedicated 

to  the  god  ;  and  as  soon  as  she  was  old  enough  to  be  separated 

from  her  mother  she  was  brought  into  the  temple  enclosure  to 

live.    She  remained  in  office  until  she  reached  the  age  of 

puberty,  when  the  god  decided  whom  she  was  to  marry.     She 

was  then  removed  from  the  temple,  because  no  woman  might 

I  The  Golden  Bwgh  ;  The  Magic  Art  and  the  Evolution  of  Kings  >  ii.  195, 


CHAP,  x  THE  KINGS  FIRE  167 

enter  a  temple  or  have  anything  to  do  for  the  gods  during  her 
periods  of  menstruation  ;  consequently  the  office  of  temple 
virgin  was  restricted  to  girls  of  immature  years."1 

Moreover,  in  Uganda  the  King  and  the  chiefs  had  their 
consecrated  virgins  bound  to  chastity  and  charged  with  the 
duty  of  tending  the  fire  on  the  royal  or  chiefly  hearth.  Canon 
Roscoe's  account  of  these  domestic  Vestals,  as  we  may  call 
them,  runs  thus :  "  The  King  and  each  important  chief  had  a 
girl  in  personal  attendance  wherever  there  were  restrictions 
and  taboos  to  be  observed.  This  girl  was  called  kaja 
buwonga  ;  she  lived  in  her  master's  house,  and  was  ready  for 
any  service.  Her  birth  had  been  predicted  by  a  priest ;  she 
was  dedicated  to  some  god  from  her  birth  ;  and  when  old 
enough  to  perform  the  office  called  kajay  she  was  given  to  a 
chief  to  perform  the  duties  of  this  office.  These  duties  were, 
to  tend  the  fire  in  the  evening,  and  by  night,  to  bring  the  chief 
water  with  which  to  wash  his  face  in  the  early  morning,  to 
bring  him  the  butter  or  medicine  with  which  he  smeared  his 
body,  and  to  hand  him  the  fetiches  which  he  required,  after 
obtaining  them  from  his  principal  wife  who  had  the  charge 
of  them.  When  he  went  on  a  war  expedition,  she  accom- 
panied him  for  a  short  distance,  carrying  in  front  of  him  his 
fetiches  which  were  to  protect  him  from  danger ;  these  she 
afterwards  restored  to  the  principal  wife.  No  boy  was  ever 
permitted  to  play  with  her,  or  even  to  touch  her,  for  she  was 
a  consecrated  person.  When  she  attained  puberty  the  god 
to  whom  she  was  dedicated  ordered  her  marriage,  and  an- 
other kaja  girl  from  the  clan  was  sent  to  take  her  place.  The 
king  and  the  chiefs  often  took  these  girls  to  wife.  The  clan 
from  which  she  came  profited  by  receiving  presents  and  other 
favours  from  the  King  or  the  chiefs,  as  the  case  might  be/'  a 
Among  the  Barundi,  a  tribe  living  to  the  west  of  Lake 
Victoria  Nyanza,  there  is  a  class  of  virgins  whom  our  author- 
ity calls  "Vestals."  In  the  tribe  there  is  a  sacred  drum 
which  is  worshipped  with  almost  divine  honours.  The 
Sultan  or  King  brings  offerings  to  it,  and  the  charge  of  the 
drum  is  committed  to  three  girls.  One  of  their  duties  is  to 
see  that  the  regular  offerings  are  duly  brought  to  the  drum. 
Such  a  girl  is  known  as  "  the  wife  of  the  sacred  drum." 

1  J.  Roscoe,  The  Baganda>  p.  276.  *  J.  Roscoe,  op.  tit.  p  9. 

1 68  THE  KINGS  FIRE  CHAP,  x 

She  is  bound  to  observe  strict  chastity,  and  if  she  fails  to  do  so, 
like  a  Vestal  Virgin  at  Rome,  she  is  put  to  death.1  The 
Bergdama  of  South-west  Africa  attach  great  importance  to 
their  domestic  fire.  We  are  told  that  a  man  of  the  tribe 
would  rather  be  without  his  hut  than  without  his  fire.  The 
chiefs  fire  is  tended  by  his  first  wife.  If  it  should  go  out  it  is 
rekindled,  like  the  Vestal  fire  at  Rome,  by  the  primitive 
apparatus  of  the  fire-drill,2 

1  H.  Meyer,  Die  Barundi,  p.  iSS. 
1  H.  Vedder,  Die  Bergdama  (Hamburg,  1923),  pp.  20-38. 



As  we  have  just  seen,  whenever  the  perpetual  vestal  fire  at 
Rome  happened  to  go  out  it  was  solemnly  rekindled  by  the 
primitive  apparatus  known  as  the  fire-drill,  that  is,  by  a 
pointed  stick  made  to  revolve  so  as  to  make  a  hole  in  a  flat 
board  and  elicit  a  flame  by  the  friction  of  the  wood.  This 
is  perhaps  the  oldest  of  all  modes  of  kindling  fire  known 
to  man,  and  it  seems  to  be  the  most  widely  diffused  among 
savages  before  they  came  into  contact  with  civilization.  Else- 
where I  have  given  references  to  some  of  the  tribes  who  are 
known  to  practise  or  formerly  to  have  practised  this  method  of 
obtaining  fire.1  I  will  now  subjoin  a  list  of  some  other  peoples 
who  are  known  to  practise  or  to  have  formerly  practised  this 
primitive  mode  of  securing  fire.2  But  it  may  be  well  to  illus,,- 

1  The  Golden  Bough  :    The  Magic 
Art  and  the  Evolution  of  Kings,  ii. 
206  sq. 

2  G.    St.    J.    Orde    Browne,    The 
Vanishing  Tribes  of  Kenya  (London, 
1925),    pp.    1 20   sq. ;     F.    Fiilleborn, 
Das  Deutsche  Nyassa-  und  Rwwumba- 
Gebiet  (Berlin,  1906),  p.  91  ;   E.  Kotz, 
fnt   Banne   der  Furcht   (Hamburg), 
p.  137 ;    C.  K.  Meek,  The  Northern 
Tribes  o}  Nigeria  (London,  1925),  i. 
172  ;     S.    S.    Dornan,    Pygmies   and 
Bushmen  of  the  Kalahari  (London, 
1923),  pp.   116  sq. ;    id.,  "The  Tati 
Bushmen  and   their   Language,"  in 
Tournal  of  the  Royal  Anthropological 
Institute,    xlvii.    (1917)    p.    46;     D. 
Livingstone,    Last  Journals,    i.    58; 
R.  Schmitz,  Les  Baholoholo  (Brussels, 
1912),  p.  51  ;    J.  Vanden  Plas,  Les 

Kuku  (Brussels,  1910),  p.  69 ;  H. 
Rehse,  Kiziba  Land  und  Leute 
(Stuttgart,  1910),  pp.  19  sq. ;  R. 
Neuhauss,  Deutsch  Neu-Guinea,  iii. 
24  ;  A.  F.  R.  Wollaston,  Pygmies  and 
Papuans  (London,  1912),  pp.  200  sq. ; 
A.  R.  Wallace,  The  Malay  Archi- 
pelago, ii.  34 ;  H.  Riedel,  De  Sluik- 
en  Kroesharige  Rassen  tusschen  Sele- 
bes  en  Papua  (The  Hague,  1886), 
p.  187  ;  W.  Marsden,  The  History  of 
Sumatra  (London,  1811),  p.  60;  A.  L. 
Van  Hasselt,  Volksbeschrijving  van 
Midden- Sumatra  (Leyden,  1882),  pp. 
177^.;  S.  J.  Hickson,  A  Naturalist 
in  North  Celebes,  p.  172;  P.  J.  Veth, 
Java  (Harlem,  1875-1884),  i.  564; 
E.  Modigliani,  Un  Viaggio  a  Nias 
(Milan,  1890),  p.  385;  D,  Bray, 
Ethnographic  Survey  of  Baluchistan, 


1  70  THE  FIRE-  DRILL  CHAP. 

trate  the  practice  by  a  few  particular  examples.     Thus  with 

regard  to  the  primitive  Embu  tribes  who  inhabit  the  vast 

southern  slopes  of  Mount  Kenya  in  East  Africa,  their  method 

of  kindling  fire  has  been  described  as  follows  by  Major  Orde 

Browne,  who  administered  the  tribes  and  knows  them  well. 

"  All  the  Embu  tribes  are  clever  at  producing  fire  by  friction, 

though  the  art  is  naturally  rapidly  disappearing  with  the 

introduction   of   matches.      The   principle    utilized    is   the 

friction  set  up  between  a  drill  of  soft  fibrous  wood,  working 

in  a  socket  of  hard  dense  wood.    A  stick  some  twelve  or 

eighteen  inches  in  length,  and  about  the  thickness  of  a  pencil, 

is  cut  from  some  light  fibrous  wood  and  dried.     Another 

piece  of  wood  is  cut,  of  some  hard  dense  material,  and 

shaped  to  about  the  size  and  thickness  of  the  back  of  a  small 

clothes  brush  ;  the  edges  are  rounded  off  and  several  '  nicks  ' 

are  cut  in  them.     This  piece  of  wood  is  held  firmly  on  the 

ground  under  one  toe,  and  the  operator  squats  with  the  drill 

between  his  two  hands,  the  point  resting   in  one  of  the 

'  nicks.'     It  is  rotated  rapidly,  the  hands  quickly  rising  to  the 

top  again  as  they  reach  the  bottom  of  the  stick.     Friction 

soon  rounds  the  nick  until  it  becomes  a  small  socket  with  a 

gap  at  one  side  from  which  the  powder  produced  runs  out  in 

a  pile  on  the  ground  ;   continued  friction  increases  the  heat, 

until  a  glowing  point  is  observed  on  the  little  pile  of  dust. 

This  is  half  covered  with  a  wisp  of  dry  grass  kept  ready  for 

the  purpose,  when  a  few  puffs  are  enough  to  ignite  the  grass. 

The  time  taken  is  surprisingly  short,  when  the  two  sticks  are 

ready  and  thoroughly  dry  ;  after  a  little  practice  I  was  myself 

able  to  produce  a  light  within  a  minute,  under  favourable 

conditions.    The  secret  lies  in  putting  a  few  grains  of  sand  in 

the  socket  before  starting,  to  increase  friction  ;  without  this 

aid,  blistered  hands  would  probably  be  the  only  result."  * 

Again,  with  regard  to  the  tribes  of  Northern  Nigeria,  we 
are  told  that  "  two  methods  of  obtaining  fire  are  used  by  all 
the  tribes  :  (*)  the  percussion,  and  £  the  drill  method  ____ 

/  3V   LV?ear^»  Glimpses  of  Un-  p.    407.    As    to    the    fire-drill,    see 

r  I^Jr  r/1^i  U  I9n   Sq:  ;    W*  B'  further  my  Uyiks  on  the  Origin  o) 

Grubb,  An  Unsown  People  in  an  Un-  Fire  (London,  1930),  pp.  217  j/. 
known  Land  (London,  1911),  p.  745  '    ^  h  ™       *   * 

K*Ai  *  G'  St  J-  Orde 

Pacific  Expedition,  vol.  v.  Part  ii.),     pp.  120*?. 


The  drill  method  is  a  dry-season  one,  and  is  only  resorted  to 
in  the  absence  of  steel  and  flint.  A  stalk  of  guinea-corn,  bul- 
rush-millet, or  Hibiscus  is  spjit  into  two.  One  half  is  taken, 
and  a  groove  is  made  in  it  by  twirling  into  it  a  smaller  stalk. 
Underneath  the  groove  some  dried  cow's  or  horse's  dung,  or 
old  dried  rags,  are  placed.  The  rotatory  movement  is  con- 
tinued until  the  stalk  is  pierced,  when  the  heat  generated 
ignites  the  dried  dung  or  rags.  Among  some  tribes,  (e.g. 
the  Mbarawa),  where  the  percussion  method  is  commonly 
followed,  the  more  ancient  drill  method  is  ceremonially 
carried  out  each  year  by  the  religious  chief.  All  fires  are 
extinguished  in  the  town,  and  the  religious  chief,  with  the 
elders,  goes  through  the  process  of  twisting  one  stick  into 
another.  The  resultant  fire  is  believed — by  the  women,  at 
any  rate — to  have  been  obtained  by  magic  means,  and  is  for- 
mally distributed  throughout  the  village."  *  The  practice  of 
these  Nigerian  tribes,  who  in  daily  life  have  discarded  the 
ancient  method  of  kindling  fire  by  the  fire-drill,  but  retain 
it  at  the  solemn  annual  ceremony  of  kindling  the  new  fire 
for  the  whole  village,  is  an  interesting  example  of  that  con- 
servatism in  ritual  which  is  characteristic  of  many  religions. 
Practice  is  always  more  stable  than  theory ;  men  shed  their 
opinions  more  easily  than  their  habits. 

Once  more,  with  regard  to  the  very  primitive  Bushman 
of  the  Kalahari  Desert  in  South- West  Africa,  their  mode  of 
kindling  fire  is  described  as  follows  :  "As  soon  as  a  Bush- 
man has  killed  a  buck,  he  lights  a  fire,  cooks  a  portion  of  it, 
and  devours  it.  The  method  of  making  fire  is  as  follows  : 
a  short  length  of  hardwood,  about  twelve  inches,  of  acacia  or 
mopani,  is  chosen.  This  is  as  thick  as  a  lead  pencil,  and  is  the 
drill.  It  must  be  quite  dry.  Another  piece  of  about  the 
same  length,  but  twice  as  thick,  of  some  soft  wood,  such  as 
commiphora,  is  placed  on  the  ground,  and  firmly  held  by  the 
operator's  feet,  who  sits  down.  The  drill  has  a  pointed  end 
which  fits  into  a  notch  in  the  lower  piece.  It  is  rapidly 
twirled  between  the  hands,  with  a  double  motion  right  and 
left.  In  a  short  time  the  dust  thrown  out  of  the  notch  by  the 
drilling  begins  to  smoke.  Rapid  and  more  rapid  becomes  the 
motion  till  the  dust  begins  to  glow.  It  is  then  covered  with 

1  C.  K.  Meek,  op,  cit.  i.  171 


a  little  moss,  and  gently  blown  upon  by  the  mouth,  when  it 
bursts  into  a  flame,  and  is  immediately  thrust  into  some  dry 
grass,  when  there  is  a  fire.  It  is  astonishing  how  quickly  a 
Bushman  will  produce  a  fire.  Anything  from  five  to  seven 
minutes  is  enough.  Long  practice  is  required  to  get  the 
requisite  pressure  on  the  lower  piece  of  wood.  If  it  is  too 
heavy  the  drill  becomes  blunted,  and  if  too  light,  nothing 
beyond  a  smoking  is  produced.  Considerable  deftness  is 
required  to  keep  the  drill  in  motion  when  sliding  the  hands 
up  and  down.  This  is  what  produces  the  alternation  of 
movement.  I  have  tried  several  times,  after  watching  Bush- 
men make  fire,  but  could  never  get  the  thing  beyond  the 
smoking  stage."  l 

Many  savages  see  in  the  working  of  the  fire-drill  an 
analogy  to  the  intercourse  of  the  sexes,  and  accordingly  they 
identify  the  upright  pointed  stick  with  the  male,  and  the  flat 
notched  or  socketed  stick  with  the  female.  Among  African 
tribes  this  holds  true  of  the  Bakitara  and  the  Basabei,  two 
tribes  of  Uganda,  of  the  Bushongo,  a  tribe  of  the  Upper 
Congo,  of  the  Ba-Ila  speaking  tribes  of  Northern  Rhodesia, 
the  Wasu  of  Tanganyika,  and  the  Antandroi  of  Madagascar.2 
The  Thonga  or  Ronga  of  South-East  Africa  call  the  upright 
pointed  stick  the  husband,  and  the  flat  notched  stick  the 
wife.3  With  regard  to  the  Kikuyu,  a  tribe  of  Kenya,  who 
treat  the  two  fire-sticks  as  mftle  and  female  respectively,  we 
are  told  that  "  it  is  curious  to  note  that  a  woman  is  not  al- 
lowed to  make  fire  by  friction,  the  reason  given  for  this  being 
that  a  man  has  to  squat  to  make  fire,  and  that  if  a  woman  does 
the  same  it  is  unseemly,  as  she  thereby  exposes  her  nakedness. 
It  is  believed,  however,  that  there  is  more  in  it  than  this,  and 
that  only  a  male  is  supposed  to  manipulate  the  masculine 
portion  of  the  apparatus."  4  Very  different  from  this  was  a 
practice  of  the  people  of  Loango.  Public  fires  were  kept 
perpetually  burning  during  a  king's  reign,  and  were  ex- 

1  S.  S.  Dornan  op.cit.  pp.  1 16  sq.       Antandroy  de  Madagascar/'  in  Xew* 
v   J™     I006'  Tke  Zttet*™*  P-  47  J      d'ethnographie     et     dts      traditions 

A  ?     A     f SU'  PV  5§  ;    E'  Torday      Populaires,  vii.  (1926)  p.  38. 
and  T.  A.  Joyce,  Les  Bushongo,  p.          „  TT 

135  J   E.  W.  Smith  and  A.  M    Dale  H*  A'  Junod'  Tk*  Lif*  °f  a  South 

op.  cit.  i.  143  ;    J.  J.  Dannholz,  Im  Afric™  ?*&*>  »-  33- 

Banne    des   Geisterglaubens,    p.    43  ;  *  C.  W.  Hobley,  Bantu  Beliefs  and 

R.    Decary,       L'Industrie    chez    les  Magic  (London,  1922),  p.  68. 


tinguished  at  his  death.  When  the  new  king  came  to  the 
throne  the  new  public  fire  was  rekindled  by  the  friction  of  two 
sticks,  regarded  as  male  and  female  respectively,  which  were 
appropriately  manipulated  by  a  youth  and  a  maiden.  After 
performing  this  solemn  function  they  were  compelled  to 
complete  the  analogy  with  the  fire-sticks  by  cohabiting  with 
each  other  in  public,  after  which  they  were  buried  alive.1 

In  India  the  Birhors,  a  primitive  tribe  of  Chota  Nagpur, 
still  produce  fire  by  the  old  method  of  the  fire-drill,  the  sticks 
of  which  they  recognize  as  male  and  female  respectively. 
Their  mode  of  kindling  the  fire  is  as  follows.  "  The  orthodox 
method  of  making  fire  is  with  two  pieces  of  split  bamboo, 
about  two  feet  long.  These  fire-sticks  are  called  gulgus, 
one  of  which  has  a  slight  notch  cut  into  it  towards  the  middle 
of  its  length  and  is  called  the  enga  or  the  female  stick.  The 
enga  stick  is  placed  on  the  ground  with  the  notch  looking 
upwards  and  one  end  pressed  under  the  operator's  left  foot 
and  the  far  end  placed  in  a  slightly  inclined  position  over  a 
stone  to  keep  it  steady.  The  other  stick  which  is  called  the 
sanre  or  male  stick  is  inserted  perpendicularly  into  the  notch 
on  the  enga  stick  and  rapidly  twirled  round  and  round  between 
the  hands  until  the  charred  dust  produced  by  this  process  of 
drilling  takes  fire.  The  Birhor  does  not  keep  fire  continually 
burning,  but  produces  it  with  tl&gulgu  whenever  required."  2 

1  Die  Loango  Expedition,  {ii.  2,  pp.          *  S.    C.    Roy,    The   Birhors.    pp. 

170  sq,  516  sq. 



IN  treating  of  the  worship  of  Vesta,  the  Roman  goddess  of 
the  domestic  hearth  and  of  the  fire  that  burned  in  it,  I  have 
suggested  that  the  widespread  custom  of  leading  a  bride 
round  the  hearth  may  have  been  intended  to  fertilize  her,  by 
that  generative  virtue  of  the  fire  which  from  legends  is  known 
to  have  been  an  article  of  the  ancient  Latin  creed,  and  further, 
that  the  practice  of  passing  new-born  infants  over  the  fire 
may  have  been  a  mode  of  introducing  them  to  the  ancestral 
spirits  supposed  to  haunt  the  old  domestic  hearth,1  The 
conception  of  ancestral  spirits  haunting  their  old  domestic 
hearths  appears  to  be  familiar  to  the  Ba-Ila  speaking  tribes 
of  Northern  Rhodesia,  for  with  regard  to  them  we  are  told 
that  "  for  a  hut  to  have  no  fire  in  it  is  reckoned  very  bad, 
not  only  for  the  convenience  of  the  living,  but  also  for  the 
family  ghosts  who  live  in  the  hut."  2 

Further  I  have  suggested  that  the  Vestals  were  regarded 
as  embodiments  of  Vesta  as  the  mother-goddess  who  be- 
stowed offspring  on  cattle  and  on  women,8  With  this  their 
character  as  priestesses  of  the  sacred  fire  was  probably  closely 
connected,  for  whenever  the  sacred  fire  went  out  they  appear 
to  have  assisted  the  pontiff  in  rekindling  it,  by  means  of  the 
fire-drill.  We  may  conjecture  that  a  Vestal  held  the  flat 
board  of  the  drill  while  the  pontiff  twirled  the  other  fire-stick 
between  his  hands,  so  as  to  elicit  the  flame  by  friction-  We 
may  compare  a  custom  observed  by  the  Pal6s  of  South  Hsenwi 

1  The  Golden  Bough:    The  Magic      cit.i.  142. 
Art  and  the  Evolution  of  Kings,  ii.          »  The  Golden  Bough  :    The  Magic 

•  »  w  Q    -A      j  A    w  ^  ,  Art  and  th*  &wto*b*  *f  K™SS,  ii. 

E,  W.  Smith  and  A..  M.  Dale,  op.      229. 


CHAP,  xn     FA  THER  JO  VE  AND  MOTHER  VESTA  175 

in  Burma.  "  Among  the  Pales  of  South  Hsenwi  there  is  a 
village  custom  that  once  a  year  all  the  village  fires  must  be 
extinguished  and  new  fires  made.  A  man  and  a  woman  are 
chosen,  who  rub  two  pieces  of  wood  together  in  order  to  get 
fire  by  friction.  All  other  fires  in  the  village  are  lit  from  this 
source."  *  In  this  custom  we  may  assume,  with  a  fair  degree 
of  probability,  that  the  fire  is  kindled  by  means  of  the  fire- 
drill,  and  that  in  the  operation  the  drill,  the  male  element,  is 
twirled  by  the  man,  while  the  flat  board,  the  female  element, 
is  held  by  the  woman.  Maori  legend  has  preserved  the 
memory  of  a  fire  thus  solemnly  procured  by  a  father  and 
daughter  acting  together.  "  Kai-awa  resolved  to  remove 
the  tapu  which  Wheke-toro  had  put  on  the  Whanga-o-keno 
Island,  and  his  purpose  was  approved  by  all  the  people. 
He  and  his  daughter  Po-nui-a~hine  went  to  the  island.  His 
daughter  accompanied  him  that  she  might  stand  on  and  hold 
steady  the  wood  which  her  father  would  use  to  procure  fire  by 
friction,  and  perform  her  part  of  the  ceremony  and  represent 
the  female  gods.  .  .  .  Kai-awa  took  some  wood,  and,  whilst 
his  daughter  pressed  one  end  firmly  on  the  ground,  he  by 
friction  produced  fire  from  it.  When  smoke  was  first  seen, 
he  called  it  Pinoi-nuku  (hot  stone  of  the  earth).  When  he 
made  the  fire  blaze  he  called  it  Pinoi-a-rangi  (hot  stone  of 
heaven).  He  put  his  daughter  to  sleep,  and  went  to  light 
the  sacred  fires — one  for  the  gods  of  men,  the  others  for  the 
gods  of  females."  2  In  this  legend  it  is  to  be  observed  that 
the  woman  who  assisted  her  father  in  kindling  the  new 
fire  claimed  to  represent  the  female  gods,  thus  answering 
exactly  to  the  part  which  I  have  conjecturally  assigned  to 
the  Vestal  Virgin  who  helped  the  pontiff  to  relight  the  sacred 
fire  at  Rome,  for  on  my  theory  the  Vestal  personated  the 
goddess  Vesta.  We  have  seen  that  in  Loango  a  new  fire, 
lit  at  the  beginning  of  a  king's  reign,  was  always  kindled  by 
a  youth  and  maiden  with  the  use  of  the  fire-drill.3 

But  while  the  sexual  interpretation  of  the  fire-drill  which 
the  Vestals  used  in  relighting  the  sacred  fire  is  obvious  and 
unmistakable,  the  Vestals  themselves  had  to  be  chaste,  or 

1  Mrs.  L.  Milne,  The  Home  of  an     the  Maori  (London,  1889),  ii.  192. 
Eastern  Clan,  p.  207. 
*  J.  White,  The  Ancient  History  of        •  See  above,  p.  173. 


otherwise  it  was  believed  that  they  could  not  elicit  the  fire. 
The  same  demand  for  chastity  in  persons  who  make  cere- 
monial fires  meets  us  among  the  Angami  Nagas,  a  tribe  of 
Assam.  A  certain  ceremony,  called  the  Derochu  "  is  per- 
formed in  the  case  of  any  illness  or  by  reason  of  being  talked 
about,  either  for  good  or  for  ill.  A  pig  is  killed,  and  two 
chaste  unmarried  boys,  one  a  Pezoma  and  the  other  a  Pep- 
fuma,  are  sent  into  the  jungle  to  bring  a  bit  of  tree,  to  make  a 
wooden  hearth,  some  firewood,  and  some  wormwood.  They 
make  a  newfireplace  and  make  fire  with  a  fire-stick,  the  Pezoma 
boy  being  the  first  to  work  the  stick.  If  he  fails  to  get  fire 
the  owner  of  the  house  works  it."  1 

It  is  a  widespread  belief  in  Germany  that  if  a  person  can 
blowup  into  a  flame  the  almost  extinguished  embers  of  a  dying 
fire  he  or  she  is  chaste.  The  belief  is  said  to  be  current  in 
Silesia,  Oldenburg,  Bavaria,  Switzerland,  and  the  Tyrol,2 
to  which  we  can  add  Mecklenburg.3  Elsewhere  I  have  con- 
jecturally  suggested  a  motive  for  this  requirement  of  chastity 
in  fire-making.4 

1  J.  H.Hutton,  The  Angami  Nagas  3  K.  Bartsch,  Sagtn,  Mdrchen  und 
(London,  1921),  p.  234.  Gebrduthe  aus  Mtc&lcnburg  (Vienna, 

2  A.  Wuttke,  Der  deutsche  Volks-  1880),  ii.  58. 
aberglaube    der    Gegenwart    (Berlin, 

1869)  p.  206,  §312.    For  Bavaria,  cf.  F.         *  The  Golden  Bough  :    The  Magic 
Panzer,  Beitrag  zur  deutschen  Mytho-     Art  and  the  Evolution  of  Kings,  ii. 
(Munchen,  1848),  i.  258.  239. 



ELSEWHERE  I  have  suggested  that  the  custom  of  maintaining 
a  perpetual  fire,  like  the  fire  of  Vesta,  originated  in  the  diffi- 
culty of  kindling  a  new  fire  by  the  laborious  process  of  fric- 
tion.1 Hence  many  savages  keep  a  fire  perpetually  burning 
or  glowing  in  their  hut,  and  if  the  fire  goes  out  they  borrow 
a  light  from  a  neighbouring  house  rather  than  take  the  trouble 
of  kindling  it  in  the  usual  way  by  friction ;  and,  for  the  same 
reason,  on  journeys  savages  will  often  carry  a  glowing  ember 
with  them  rather  than  elicit  fire  by  the  friction  of  the  fire- 
sticks.  Thus,  speaking  of  the  black  population  of  the 
Western  or  French  Sudan  on  the  Ivory  Coast,  the  experienced 
French  ethnographer,  M.  Delafosse,  tells  us  that  these  people, 
having  given  up  the  practice  of  kindling  fire  by  the  friction 
of  wood,  and  not  yet  having  learned  the  method  of  making 
fire  by  flint  and  steel  or  matches,  they  carefully  preserve  the 
fire  in  each  village  or  in  each  habitation  and  in  shifting  their 
habitations  they  carry  with  them  a  glowing  ember  to  light  the 
fire  in  their  new  abode.  M.  Delafosse  witnessed  for  himself 
this  custom  in  use  among  the  Baoule,  the  Senoufo,  the  Ouobe, 
the  Toura,  the  Dan,  and  other  tribes  of  the  Ivory  Coast.  He 
tells  us  that  certain  facts  bear  witness  to  the  high  importance, 
not  only  utilitarian  but  quasi  sacred,  which  these  peoples  and 
others  attach  to  the  conservation  of  the  family  fire.  They 
carefully  guard  the  piece  of  charred  wood  from  which  the 
founder  of  the  village  or  the  house  kindled  the  first  fire  on 
the  soil  which  he  transmitted  to  his  descendants.  In  many 
parts  of  Western  Sudan  the  remains  of  the  ancestral  ember  are 

1  The  Golden  Bough  :  The  Magic  Art  and  the  Evolution  of  Kings,  ii.  253. 



piously  preserved  by  the  patriarch  and  his  descendants,  as  a 
sign  of  his  territorial  authority,  and  as  a  proof  of  the  first 
occupation  of  the  soil  by  the  ancestor  of  the  family.  At 
Bondoukou  on  the  Ivory  Coast,  when  a  discussion  takes  place 
between  the  two  most  ancient  tribes  of  the  country  on  their 
respective  rights  to  the  possession  of  the  soil,  it  is  the  produc- 
tion, by  the  chief  of  one  of  the  tribes,  of  the  ancestral  ember 
that  decides  the  dispute  in  his  favour.1 

In  Kiziba,  a  district  to  the  west  of  Lake  Victoria  Nyanza, 

the  natives  are  careful  to  keep  fires  perpetually  burning,  or 

at  least  glowing,  by  day  and  by  night  in  their  houses,  because 

they  shrink  from  undertaking  the  tedious  process  of  kindling 

fire  by  friction,     If  the  fire  in  the  house  should  happen  to  go 

out  the  people  will  borrow  fire  from  a  neighbouring  house 

rather  than  kindle  it  by  friction,  but  they  are  acquainted 

with  the  method  of  kindling  fire  by  the  friction  of  a  soft  and 

a  hard  wood,  and  they  resort  to  it  on  long  journeys  when 

there  is  no  means  of  borrowing  fire  from  somebody  else.8 

Similarly  among  the  Barundi,  a  tribe  of  the  same  region,  to 

the  west  of  Lake  Victoria  Nyanza,  it  is  customary  to  maintain 

the  domestic  fire  by  day  and  night  on  a  hearth  in  the  centre 

of  the  hut,  and  if  the  fire  should  go  out  the  people  borrow  a 

light  from  a  neighbour,  rather  than  be  at  the  pains  of  rekind- 

ling it  by  friction.    At  the  same  time  they  are  acquainted  with 

the  process  of  making  fire  by  the  friction  of  wood,  and  some- 

times resort  to  it  on  long  journeys,  though  at  such  times  they 

sometimes  carry  with  them  a  glowing  ember  to  save  them- 

selves the  trouble  of  eliciting  fire  by  the  fire-sticks.8    Speaking 

of  the  natives  of  Loango,  a  good  authority  tells  us  that  they 

rarely  resort  to  the  laborious  process  of  kindling  fire  by  fric- 

tion.    On  journeys   they   always   carry   a   fire   with   them 

smouldering  in  the  pith  of  a  plant  or  in  rotten  wood.4 

Often  the  maintenance  of  a  perpetual  fire  is  an  appanage 
of  royal  dignity.  It  is  maintained  throughout  the  life  of  the 
king,  extinguished  at  his  death,  and  rekindled  at  the  accession 
of  his  successor.  We  have  seen  that  this  was  the  case  with 

1  M.  Delafosse,  in  Revue  d'ethno-      Leute,  pp.  19  sqf 
graphic  et  des  traditions  populates,          «  H.  Meyer,  Die  Barundi,  p.  24, 

r*  *        r 
,    faziba,    Land   und      pp.  171 


the  kings  of  Loango.1  Among  the  Banyankole  of  Uganda 
all  the  king's  fires  were  extinguished  at  his  death,  and  all  the 
goats  and  dogs  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  royal  kraals  were 
killed,  because  they  were  supposed  to  retain  the  evil  of  death.2 
Among  the  Bakerewe,  who  inhabit  an  island  on  Lake  Vic- 
toria Nyanza,  at  the  accession  of  a  new  king  a  new  fire  was 
solemnly  kindled  by  a  man  who  must  be  a  member  of  the 
Bahembe  family.  He  did  so  by  twirling  a  stick  on  a  small 
log,  and  as  soon  as  the  flame  appeared  the  people  hastened  to 
extinguish  and  throw  out  all  the  remains  of  the  fires  in  the 
king's  houses.  After  that  the  fire-maker  distributed  the  new 
fire  to  all  the  people.3 

Among  the  Thonga  or  Ronga  of  South-East  Africa  a 
perpetual  fire  was  maintained  in  the  hut  of  the  chief's  first 
or  principal  wife,  the  queen,  who  had  the  charge  of  it.  If 
she  allowed  it  to  go  out  the  fire  had  to  be  rekindled  by  the 
royal  priest  or  magician,  which  he  did  by  rubbing  together 
two  sticks  of  a  certain  wood  called  ntjopfa.  The  fire  pro- 
duced from  this  wood  is  deemed  dangerous.  It  is  taboo  to  cut 
the  branches  of  the  tree  from  which  the  wood  is  taken,  or  to 
use  its  wood  for  warming  themselves.  The  queen  or  principal 
wife  who  had  charge  of  the  royal  fire  and  royal  medicine  had 
on  that  account  no  sexual  relations  with  the  chief  or  king. 
"  I  do  not  know,"  says  M.  Junod,  "  if  absolute  continence  is 
always  enforced  on  the  keeper  of  the  sacred  fire,  as  was  the 
case  for  the  Roman  Vestal  Virgins.  But  I  have  been  told 
by  Mboza  that  this  woman  prevented  her  co-wives  from 
coming  near  her  hut :  it  was  taboo."  4  In  any  case  the  analogy 
between  the  Vestal  fire  at  Rome  and  the  royal  fire  of  the 
Thonga  is  sufficiently  close. 

Some  peoples  attribute  a  special  virtue  to  a  fire  kindled  by 
lightning,  and  employ  it  to  relight  the  fires  in  their  huts. 
Thus  among  the  Kagoro,  a  tribe  of  Nigeria,  "  if  any  tree  or 
house  is  set  on  fire  by  lightning,  all  the  people  will  at  once 
quench  their  fires  and  hasten  to  the  spot  with  bundles  of  grass 
to  get  new  fire  to  rekindle  them.  To  neglect  this  would  be  to 
show  that  the  person  so  doing  possessed  black  magic,  and  did 

1  See  above,  p.  173.  domestique  des  Bakerewe,"  in  An- 

1  J.  Roscoe,  The  Banyankole^  p.  51.       tkropos,  vi.  (1911)  p.  71. 

»  P.  E.  Hurel,  "  Religion  et  Vie          4  H.  A.  Junod,  op.  tit.  i.  391, 


not  want  to  change  his  fire/'  l  Similarly  among  the  Oraons 
of  Chota  Nagpur  in  India,  "  although  fire  is  not  ordinarily 
considered  sacred,  *  lightning-fire  *  is  regarded  as  sent  by 
Heaven.  Thus  not  so  long  ago,  at  village  Haril  (in  tkana 
Mundar),  a  tree  on  whose  branches  an  Oraon  cultivator  had 
stacked  his  straw,  was  struck  with  lightning  and  the  straw 
caught  fire.  Thereupon  all  the  Oraons  of  the  village  assembled 
at  a  meeting,  and  decided  that  as  God  had  sent  this  '  lightning- 
fire,'  all  existing  fire  in  the  village  should  be  extinguished, 
and  a  portion  of  this  Heaven-sent  fire  should  be  taken  and 
carefully  preserved  in  every  house,  and  should  be  used  for  all 
purposes.  And  this  was  accordingly  done."  2  Again  in 
some  tribes  of  Northern  Rhodesia  "  when  a  thunderbolt 
falls  the  chief  kindles  a  new  fire  from  it,  and  dispenses  the 
embers,  ordering  his  people  to  use  this  fresh  flame  sent  from 
God:9  8 

Some  peoples  appear  to  think  that  the  virtue  of  fire  is 
impaired  or  diluted  by  a  death,  and  that  consequently  after 
such  an  occurrence  it  is  necessary  to  extinguish  the  old  fire 
and  obtain  a  new  one.  Thus  among  the  tribes  at  the  southern 
end  of  Lake  Nyasa  in  Africa,  "  after  the  death  of  anyone  in 
the  village  all  fires  are  extinguished,  fresh  fire  is  made  outside 
the  dead  man's  house  to  cook  for  all,  and  from  this  fire  is 
taken  to  every  hut"  *  The  Wemba,  a  tribe  of  Northern 
Rhodesia,  put  out  all  fires  in  the  village  as  soon  as  a  death  in 
it  is  notified.5  Among  the  Tumbuka,  a  tribe  of  Nyasaland, 
"  if  a  man  is  killed  by  lightning,  as  happens  every  year,  a 
'  doctor '  is  called,  and,  after  sacrifice,  he  washes  all  the 
villagers  with  some  medicine  of  which  he  has  the  secret,  and 
all  the  fires  are  taken  from  the  houses,  and  thrown  down  at 
the  cross-roads.  Then  the  doctor  kindles  new  fire  by  friction 
and  lights  again  the  village  hearths."*  Among  the  Thonga  or 
Rongaof  South-East  Africa,  as  soon  as  a  death  has  taken  place, 

1  A.  J.  N.  Tremearae   The  Tailed  <  H.  S,  Stannus,  "  Notes  on  Some 

Hea&Hunttrs  of  Mgena  (London,  Tribes  of  British  Central  Africa,"  in 

i To  P>.I93i         ™      ^  Journal  of  the  Royal  Anthropological 

*•    U    Roy,    The    Oraons,    pp.  Institute,  xl.  (1910)  p.  326. 

»  r  *  r    M  i,  ^  TT    „,  *  G'  Gouldsbury  and  H.  Sheane, 

»  C.  Gouldsbury  and  H.  Sheane,      op.  cit.  p.  184. 

-          »f        U  °f  Northern  Rh°~         a  D-  Fraser,  Winning  a  Primitive 
a,  p.  286.  -Peopl  ' 


"the  fire  which  was  burning  in  the  funeral  hut  is  removed  and 
carried  out  into  the  square.  It  must  be  carefully  kept  alight. 
This  is  a  taboo.  Should  there  be  rain,  it  must  be  protected. 
All  the  inhabitants  must  use  this  fire  during  the  next  five  days. 
It  will  be  put  out  by  the  doctor,  with  sand  or  water,  on  the 
day  of  the  dispersion  of  the  mourners.  He  will  then  light  a 
new  one,  and  everyone  will  take  from  it  embers  to  kindle  his 
own  fire  in  the  different  huts.  It  is  one  of  the  conditions 
of  the  purification  of  the  village."  1  Among  the  Banyoro 
of  Uganda,  after  the  death  of  a  king  "  no  fires  were  allowed  to 
burn  during  the  period  of  mourning,  they  were  all  extinguished 
when  the  king's  death  was  announced  ;  a  fire  might  be 
lighted  by  friction  with  fire-sticks  for  cooking  necessary  food, 
but  it  was  extinguished  immediately  the  cooking  was  done 
and  fresh  fire  obtained  when  it  was  wanted.  .  .  .  Upon  the 
king's  return  from  the  funeral  of  his  father,  sacred  fire  was 
brought  to  him  by  the  keeper  of  the  sacred  fire,  who  had  the 
title  of  N sans  a  Namugoye  ;  the  king  took  the  fire  from  the 
keeper  and  held  it  for  a  few  moments  ;  he  then  returned  it  to 
the  keeper  and  told  him  to  light  the  fires  in  the  royal  enclosure. 
All  the  fires  in  the  country  were  supposed  to  be  lighted  from 
this  fire.  The  original  fire  was  supposed  to  have  been 
brought  to  the  fire  by  one  of  the  first  kings."  2 

Among  the  Birhors  of  Chota  Nagpur  in  India  "  when  the 
pall-bearers  return  home  after  burial  or  cremation,  all  old 
fires  in  the  village  (tanda)  are  extinguished  and  the  cinders 
and  ashes  in  hearths  of  all  the  houses  in  the  village  are 
thrown  away,  and  every  Birhor  in  the  settlement  takes  a  bath. 
Then  a  new  fire  is  kindled  in  some  hut  by  the  friction  of  two 
pieces  of  wood,  and  all  the  other  families  in  the  village  light 
their  fires  from  it."  3 

1  H.  A.  Junod,  op.  cit.  i.  135  $g.  pp.  51  sqq. 

8  J.  Roscoe,  The  Northern  Bantu,          3  S.  C.  Roy,  The  Birhors,  p.  264. 




ELSEWHERE  I  have  shown  some  grounds  for  thinking  that  In 
the  old  Latin  kingship  the  crown  descended,  not  to  the  king's 
son,  but  to  the  man  who  married  one  of  the  king's  daughters, 
kinship  being  traced  in  the  female  instead  of  in  the  male 
line.1    This  seems  to  have  been  originally  the  rule  of  descent 
with  the  kingship  in  Burma,  as  we  learn  from  the  following 
account  of  it.     When  Mindon  became  king  of  Burma  in  1 853, 
"  he  had  to  follow  the  custom  prescribed  for  the  maintenance 
of  a  line  of  succession  having  the  pure  blood  royal.     For  this 
purpose  one  of  the  king's  daughters,  known  as  the  Tabindaing 
Princess,  always  remained  unmarried  in  order  to  become  the 
wife  of  the  next  monarch.  In  case  of  any  accident  befalling  the 
Tabindaing  with  regard  to  producing  heirs,  the  second  avail- 
able Princess  nearest  of  blood  to  the  royal  blood  was  also 
wedded  to  the  new  king.     The  former  became  the  *  chief ' 
queen  (Nanmadaw}>  and  the  south  palace  was  assigned  to 
her   use;    while  the  latter    became   the   '  middle '    queen 
(Alenandaw\  in  contradistinction  to  any  and  all  queenly  wives 
raised  to  queenly  rank.     Thus  Mindon  received  his  step- 
sister and  his  cousin  as  royal  consorts.     This  had  now  become 
nothing  more  than  the  survival  of  an  ancient  custom,  since 
the  throne  did  not  descend  by  direct  lineal  succession,  but  was 
filled  by  any  prince,  usually  a  brother  or  a  son,  who  had  been 
nominated  as  heir  apparent  by  the  King.     The  only  requisite 
qualification  was  that  he  should  be  a  son  of  one  of  the  four 
chief  queens  of  a  king."  a 

\ThtGoldenBough:  The  Magic  Art          »  J.  Nisbct,  Burma  under  British 
and  the  Evolution  of  Kings,  ii.  266  w.      R^U  (London,  1901),  i.  194  ff. 



Among  the  Garos,  a  tribe  of  Assam,  who  have  the  system 
of  female  kinship,  a  man's  sons  receive  nothing  of  his  property 
at  his  death.  It  all  goes  to  the  man  who  married  his  favourite 
daughter,  on  condition  that,  at  the  death  of  his  father-in-law, 
he  must  marry  the  widow,  his  mother-in-law,  through  whom 
he  succeeds  to  the  whole  of  his  father-in-law's  estate.  The 
sons  of  the  deceased,  inheriting  nothing  from  their  father, 
have  to  look  to  the  family  into  which  they  marry  for  their 
establishment  in  life.  Amongst  the  Garos,  as  amongst  the 
Khasis,  another  tribe  of  Assam,  the  wife  is  the  head  of  the 
family,  and  through  her  all  the  family  property  descends.1 
Elsewhere  I  have  suggested  that  among  the  ancient  Latins 
succession  to  the  throne  may  have  been  regulated  by  a  rule 
which  combined  the  hereditary  with  the  elective  principle, 
and  I  have  shown  that  such  a  combination  is  found  in  the  rule 
of  succession  in  not  a  few  African  kingdoms.2  To  the 
examples  there  cited  I  may  now  add  a  few  others.  Among 
the  Wafipa,  a  tribe  to  the  east  of  Lake  Tanganyika,  "  royalty 
is  at  once  hereditary  and  elective.  It  is  hereditary  in  the  sense 
that  the  King  must  always  be  chosen  from  the  same  family, 
that  of  the  Watwaki.  It  is  elective,  since  the  candidate  for 
the  throne  must  be  recognized  and  approved  by  the  Great 
Council.  The  heir  presumptive  to  the  throne  bears  the  name 
of  WakoMchamdama.  His  title  is  conferred  even  in  the  life- 
time of  the  king.  Usually  he  is  one  of  the  King's  brothers, 
or  one  of  his  nephews,  rarely  one  of  his  children."  3 

In  the  kingdom  of  the  Shilluk,  a  tribe  of  the  Upper  Nile, 
the  kingship  is  hereditary  "  in  so  far  as  the  king  must  always 
be  a  member  of  the  royal  family,  that  is,  of  the  descendants 
of  Nyikang,  and  only  a  person  whose  father  has  been  a  king 
may  be  elected.  There  are  three  houses  of  the  royal  family, 
and  the  king  is  elected  from  each  of  these  royal  branches  in 
turn.  If  there  are  several  brothers  in  the  branch  whose  turn 
it  is  to  have  the  kingship,  upon  the  death  of  the  king  one  of 
these  brothers  will  be  elected.  But  in  case  there  is  no  vacancy 

1  W.    W.    Hunter,    A    Statistical  Khasis  (London,  1914),  pp.  82  sq. 

Account  of  Assam  (London,  1879),  ii.  *  The  Golden  Bough  :    The  Magic 

154.    Cf.    A.    Playfair,    The    Garos  Art  and  the  Evolution  of  Kings  >  ii. 

(London,    1909),   p.   68.    As  to   the  292  sqq. 

system  of  female  kinship  among  the  3  Mgr.  Lechaptois,  Aux  Rives  du 

Khasis,  see  P.  R.  T.  Gurdon,   The  Tanganyika,  pp.  78  sq. 


during  the  life  of  these  three  brothers,  then  the  sons  of  the 
eldest  will  be  in  line  for  the  throne."  l 

Among  the  Ila-speaking  peoples  of  Northern  Rhodesia 
the  succession  to  a  chief  is  partly  hereditary  and  partly  elec- 
tive, the  new  chief  being  generally  chosen  from  one  of  the 
late  king's  family  or  clan.     The  following  is  an  instructive 
account  of  the  discussions  to  which  the  selection  of  a  chiefs 
successor  among  these  peoples  commonly  gives  rise,     "  The 
chiefs  and  headmen  select  their  fellow-chief  in  an  assembly 
after  the  funeral  of  the  deceased  chief.     In  setting  about  the 
selection  of  the  heir,  they  call  over  the  names  of  his  children 
and  nephews,  and  then  discuss  among  themselves  whom  they 
shall  instal,  saying,  *  Who  shall  it  be  ?     Let  it  be  a  proper 
man  from  among  his  children  or  his  nephews.'     And  then 
comes  the  argument.     Because  some  wish  to  put  in  a  child 
whom  they  think  a  suitable  heir,  but  others  when  his  name  is 
suggested  are  hesitant  and  doubtful,  and  do  not  haste  to  agree, 
or  if  they  seem  to  agree  it  is  not  heartily,  *  they  will  answer 
from  the  outside  of  their  hearts/     Or  they  will  speak  out  and 
say, '  He  whom  you  wish  to  instal  to-day,  has  he  left  off  doing 
certain  things  which  he  is  used  to  doing  ?     Is  he  really 
competent  to  rule  the  people  ? '     The  others,  hearing  this, 
reply  :  '  Well,  name  the  one  you  consider  the  proper  person/ 
So  they  put  forward  the  name  of  their  candidate  for  the 
chiefship,  saying,   '  We  wish   for  So-and-So,  one   of  the 
deceased's  nephews,  he  is  the  proper  person/     So  they  come 
to  a  decision.    And  the  child  of  the  chief,  if  he  does  not  fall 
in  with  it,  will  leave  the  village :  there  is  no  room  there  for 
him  who  thought  that  the  chiefship  should  be  his  :    there 
cannot  be  two  chiefs.  .  .  ,    The  clan  relationship   of  the 
deceased  chief  is  respected  in  so  far  that  in  selecting  the  heir 
an  endeavour  is  made  to  find  a  suitable  successor  of  the  same 
clan  ;  thus  when  a  Munasolwe  dies  they  seek  a  Munasolwe  in 
his  place."    Among  these  Ila-speaking  peoples,  when  several 
candidates  are  proposed  for  the  chieftainship  the  choice  is 
sometimes  determined  by  a  trial  of  skill  among  the  candidates. 
Several  instances  of  such  a  choice  were  known  to  Messrs. 
Smith  and  Dale,  our  authorities  on  these  tribes.     They  cite 
one  of  them,  which  was  as  follows  :   "  One  such  case  was  at 

1  D.  Westermaxm,  The  Shilfak  People  (Berlin,  191 2),  p.  xlvi. 




Itumbi.  Shimaponda,  the  first  chief,  on  his  death-bed 
nominated  Momba ;  but  others  were  proposed.  To  settle 
the  matter  several  competitions  were  held,  in  one  of  which  a 
large-eyed  needle  was  thrown  into  a  pool  and  the  candidates 
were  set  to  fish  for  it  with  their  spears.  The  one  who  succeeded 
in  spearing  it  through  the  eye  was  to  be  chief.  Momba  was 
the  only  one  who  succeeded,  and  he  became  chief."  *  Else- 
where we  have  seen  that  among  the  personal  qualities  which 
in  Africa  recommend  a  man  for  the  position  of  chief,  corpu- 
lence is  one.2  Among  the  Baya,  a  tribe  in  West  Africa  on  the 
borders  of  the  Cameroons,  succession  to  the  chieftainship  is 
hereditary.  When  he  is  about  to  reign,  a  new  chief  is  not 
submitted  to  any  physical  test  of  endurance,  but  he  is  shut  up 
in  a  house  for  three  months,  where  he  is  gorged  with  manioc, 
flesh,  beer,  and  maize.  And  not  until  he  has  attained  a  high 
degree  of  corpulence  is  he  brought  forth  to  be  enthroned.3 

Elsewhere  I  have  cited  examples  or  races  for  a  bride.* 
I  will  here  add  one  from  Formosa.  In  the  Pepo  tribes  of  that 
island  "  there  was  generally  freedom  of  marriage  for  both 
sexes.  Among  some  of  them,  however,  there  was  a  custom  of 
holding,  on  a  certain  day  specially  announced,  a  running 
race  in  which  all  young  bachelors  competed.  The  prize  was 
the  privilege  of  marrying  the  most  beautiful  girl  of  the  tribe."  * 

1  E.  W.  Smith  and  A.  M.  Dale, 
The  Ila- Speaking  Peoples  of  Northern 
Rhodesia^  i.  299  sgg. 

2  The  Magic  Art  and  the  Evolution 
of  Kings )  ii.  297. 

8  A.  Poupon,  "  iStude  ethnograph- 
ique  des  Baya,"  in  L* Anthropologie^ 
xxvi.  (Paris,  1915), p.  ii 8,  In  Africa, 
the  wives  of  chiefs  and  princesses 
are  similarly  fattened  artificially.  See 

J.  Speke,  Journal  of  the  Discovery 
the  Source  of  the  Nile,  p.  172;  Emin 
Pasha  in  Central  Africa  (London, 
1888),  p.  64,  and  G.  Casati,  Ten 
Years  in  Equatoria,  ii.  71. 

4  The  Magic  Art,  etc.,  ii.  299  sqq. 

5  J.  W.  Davidson,   The  Island  of 
Formosa   (London   and   New   York, 

1903),  P-  58°- 



ELSEWHERE  we  have  seen  that  in  many  parts  of  Eastern 
Europe  herdsmen  are  wont  to  drive  out  the  cattle  to  pasture 
from  the  winter  quarters  for  the  first  time  on  St.  George's 
Day,  the  twenty-third  of  April,  a  date  that  nearly  coincides 
with  that  of  the  Parilia,  the  shepherds'  festival  held  at  Ancient 
Rome  on  the  twenty-first  of  April.1    The  custom  is  observed 
on  St.  George's  Day  in  various  parts  of  Hungary  ;  but  before 
driving  out  the  cattle  on  that  day  the  herdsmen  are  careful  to 
lay  a  ploughshare  on  the  threshold  for  the  purpose  of  guarding 
the  animals  against  the  insidious  arts  of  "  the  wicked  ones," 
the  witches.    A  powder  made  of  the  holy  wafer  burnt  at 
Christmas,  of  onions  and  the  bones  of  the  dead,  is  a  powerful 
specific  against  the  witches,  and  on  St.  George's  Day  shepherds 
strew  this  powder  on  the  fields  as  a  protection  against  wild 
beasts.     In  some  districts  of  Hungary  women  stark  naked 
run  round  the  herd  before  they  drive  it  out  and  commit  it  to 
the  care  of  the  herdsmen.     In  the  district  of  Baranya-Ozd 
they  put  an  egg  on  the  ground  for  every  head  of  cattle  that  is 
driven  out.    The  shepherd  takes  the  eggs  in  his  hand  and 
says,  "  God  save  the  master  and  his  cattle,  and  may  they  come 
home  as  round  as  this  egg/'    At  Vep,  in  the  county  of  Vas, 
Western  Hungary,  when  the  cattle  are  driven  out  they  are 
beaten  with  the  branches  of  the  elder  and  green  twigs,  and  a 
chain  with  eggs  is  put  before  the  stalls.     It  is  believed  that 
their  feet  will  then  be  as  strong  as  the  chain,  and  the  poor, 
who  get  the  eggs,  will  pray  for  the  cattle.    At  Gomor, 
northern  Hungary,  there  is  another  explanation  for  the  same 

*  The  Golden  Bough:  The  Magic  Art  and  the  Evolution  of  Kings,  ii.  324  sqq. 


CHAP.  XV          ST.  GEORGE  AND  THE  PARILIA  187 

custom.     There  is  a  lock  on  the  chain,  and  this  is  said  to 
ensure  that  the  cattle  will  never  be  hungry  ;   the  egg  means 
that  they  should  be  as  round  as  an  egg.     Here  again  the 
cattle  are  whipped,  this  time  that  they  may  grow  like  young 
trees.    When  they  arrive  at  the  end  of  the  village  there  is 
another  chain  with  an  ants*  nest  in  the  middle  ;   and  so  the 
cattle  will  stop  together  like  the  ants  in  a  nest.     At  Besen- 
yotelke  the  cattle  are  never  driven  out  to  pasture  before  St. 
George's  Day,  because  on  the  eve  of  that  day  the  witches  are 
prowling  about  to  gather  the  profit  or  virtue  of  the  cows. 
They  manage  to  do  this  by  pulling  a  blanket  in  the  grass  and 
collecting  all  the  dew.     It  is  against  these  maleficent  beings 
that  all  sorts  of  precautions  are  taken  on  the  eve  of  St.  George's 
Day.     Branches  of  the  birch  are  then  stuck  on  the  fence,  the 
cattle  are  beaten  with  wild-rose  branches,  and  so  on.     In 
Eastern  Hungary  people  strew  millet  round  the  stalls  on  St. 
George's  Eve.     The  witch  must  collect  all  the  grains  before 
she  can  steal  the  milk.     In  1854  there  was  a  witch's  trial  at 
Kolozsvar.     The  charge  against  a  certain  woman  was  that 
she  had  been  gathering  dew  in  a  three-cornered  blanket  on 
the  eve  of  St.  George's  Day.    At  Kecskemet  it  is  the  shepherds 
who  do  this,  and  when  they  do  it  they  say  "  I  gather,  I  gather 
the  half  of  everything."     In  Borsod  they  say  "  I  gather,  but 
I  leave  some,"  and  the  ceremony  is  performed  either  on  St. 
George's  Eve  or  on  Good  Friday.     They  must  be  naked  to 
do  this.1 

1  G.  Roheim,  "  Hungarian  Calen-      Royal  Anthropological  Institute,  Ivi. 
dar    Customs,"    in  Journal    of    the      (1926)  366  sq. 



ELSEWHERE  in  speaking  of  the  worship  of  the  great  European 
god  of  the  oak  and  the  thunder  I  had  occasion  to  notice  the 
widespread  popular  belief  that  prehistoric  flint  weapons  are 
thunderbolts  which  have  fallen  from  heaven  to  earth.1    To 
the  evidence  I  have  there  cited  I  may  here  add  a  few  details. 
The  subject  has  been  discussed  in  a  learned  monograph  by 
the  Danish  scholar,  Dr.  Blinkenberg,  from  whose  work  I  may 
be  allowed  to  quote  a  few  passages.     "  Denmark  has  three 
portions  of  territory  in  touch  with  the  neighbouring  countries 
in  the  east  and  south,  each  with  its  special  kind  of  thunder- 
stone.    In  the  greater  part  of  the  country,  viz,  in  Sealand  with 
the  neighbouring  islands,  in  Langeland,  Funen,  Bornholm, 
and  in  Vendsyssel,  Mors,  and  the  eastern  parts  of  Jutland, 
the  common  flint  axes  of  the  stone  age  or  occasionally  other 
flint  antiquities  (dagger  blades,  even  the  crescent-shaped  flint 
saws)  were  the  objects  supposed  to  fall  down  from  the  skies  in 
thunderstorms.     Partially  in  Sealand  and  on  the  islands  to 
the  south  of  it,  Falster,  Lolland,  and  Bornholm,  belemnites 
(4  fingerstones  ')  were  regarded  as  thunder-stones  ;   whereas 
in  western  and  southern  Jutland  fossilized  sea-urchins  passed 
as  such.  .  .  .  The  stone  protects  the  house  in  which  it  is 
kept  against  strokes  of  lightning,  ...     In   Norway   the 
thunder-stone  belief  does  not  seem  to  have  such  importance  as 
in  Denmark,    In  the  greater  part  of  the  country  certain  round 
and  smooth  stones  have  been  looked  upon  as  thunder-stones  ; 
whereas  the  axes  of  the  stone  age  are  so  regarded  only  in  the 
southern  part  of  Norway,  nearest  Vendsyssel.  ,  .  .  It  is  quite 

1  The  Golden  Bough  r  The  Magic  Art  and  the  Evolution  of  Kings,  ii.  373- 


CHAP,  xvi  THE  OAK  189 

otherwise  in  Sweden,  where  the  thunder-stone  belief  has  been 
widely  spread  until  the  latest  times.     It  is  usually  the  imple- 
ments of  the  stone  age  (not  only  the  flint  axe,  as  in  Denmark, 
but  quite  as  often  the  pierced  axe)  that  are  supposed  to  have 
come  down  with  the  thunder,  though  in  certain  parts  (as  in 
southern  Skaane,  close  to  the  Danish  Islands)  it  is  the  belem- 
nite  that  is  so  regarded  ;  in  other  parts  the  same  is  said  about 
rock  crystals,  stones  worn  by  water,  etc.  .  .  .  The  power 
attributed  to  it  in  the  affairs  of  daily  life  is  partly  the  same  as 
or  at  any  rate  akin  to,  that  known  in  Denmark.  ...  It  is  a 
protection  not  only  against  lightning,  but  also  against  other 
forms  of  fire.  ...  In  Germany  we  have  many  records  of  the 
popular  belief  in  thunder-stones  in  various  parts  of  the  country. 
Here,  in  the  main,  the  same  ideas  occur  which  are  known  in 
Scandinavia,  but  besides  these  we  find  individual  features 
foreign  to  the  Danish  and  Swedish  traditions.     Some  of  these 
occur  in  other  countries  as  well,  but  others  seem  peculiar  to 
German   districts.     Not   only   flint    axes,    belemnites,    and 
echinites  pass  for  thunder-stones,  but  also,  in  certain  parts  at 
any  rate,  pierced  stone  axes.     The  thunder-stone  comes  down 
with  the  lightning  ;    it  penetrates  a  certain  depth  into  the 
earth  but  comes  to  the  surface  again  after  the  lapse  of  a.  certain 
time  ;   when  a  thunderstorm  is  brewing  the  stone  perspires 
and  moves.     It  is  a  protection  against  lightning,  for  .which 
purpose  it  is  carefully  kept,  put  up  under  the  roof,  or  hung  up 
near  the  fireplace.     In  some  parts  of  East  Prussia,  where  the 
belief  is  associated  with  the  pierced  axe,  when  a  thunderstorm 
is  coming  on,  the  peasant  puts  his  finger  through  the  hole, 
swings  the  axe  round  three  times,  and  then  hurls  it  vigorously 
against  the  door — thus  the  house  is  freed  from  strokes  of 

In  Auvergne  polished  stone  axes  are  known  to  the  fanner 
under  the  name  of  thunder-stones  (pzerres  de  tonnerre)*  The 
peasants  consider  them  as  lucky  charms  for  the  fields  in  which 
they  are  found.  When  they  no  longer  protect  the  fields  they 
are  placed  in  the  houses,  which  they  guard  against  lightning 
and  fires.8 

1  Chr.  Blinkenberg,  The  Thunder-         a  G.    Charvilhat,    in   L'Anthropo- 
weapon    in    Religion    'and    Folklore      logie,  xxiii,  (1912)  p.  461. 
(Cambridge,  1911),  especially  pp.  1-6. 


190  THE  OAK  CHAP. 

Again,  the  natives  of  the  western  Sudan,  whatever  their 
race  or  degree  of  culture,  are  reported  to  consider  polished 
stone  axes,  and  in  general  all  polished  pebbles,  as  thunder- 
stone,  which  are  called  in  Bambara  samberini  and  in  Sarakole 
sankalima.     These  two  words  mean  lightning  as  well  as 
thunder.     According  to  them,  wherever  the  lightning  strikes 
it  leaves  behind  a  polished  stone  axe.     It  is  this  axe  which  is 
the  cause  of  the  ravages,  and  it  becomes  indispensable  to 
extract  it,  else  the  lightning  will  strike  again  in  the  same  place. 
But  it  is  very  dangerous  to  extract  the  thunder-stone,  or  to 
touch  any  person  or  animal  that  has  been  struck  by  lightning. 
It  is  necessary  to  have  recourse  to  the  rain-maker.     In  the 
region  of  Yelimane,  at  the  village  of  Kocke,  there  is  only  one 
rain-maker,  but  his  authority  is  very  great.     Whenever  he 
hears  that  a  thunderbolt  has  fallen,  he  by  means  of  a  charm 
ascertains  the  exact  spot  where  the  lightning  has  struck.     He 
repairs  to  the  spot,  digs  up  the  thunder-stone,  and  carries  it 
away  after  receiving  a  present  from  the  owner  of  the  house 
which  has  been  struck  by  the  lightning.     But  if  the  owner  of 
the  house  wishes  to  retain  the  thunder-stone  he  may  do  so  on 
paying  the  rain-maker  for  it  with  a  bull,  an  enormous  sum 
for  the  country.     And  if  the  owner  places  it  in  his  granary  it 
will  secure  for  him  a  superb  crop.1 

With  regard  to  thunder-stones  in  Africa,  Dr.  Blinkenberg 
observes,  "  On  the  Guinea  Coast  and  its  hinterland  the  belief 
in  thunder-stones  is  very  common.     The  ancient  stone  axes 
which    are    regarded    as    such    are    called    '  thunderbolts/ 
1  lightning  stones,1  '  stone  gods,'  or  c  thundergods,'  and  are 
.supposed  to  fall  from  the  sky  in  thunderstorms.     When  the 
lightning  splits  a  tree,  kills  a  man,  or  sets  fire  to  a  house,  the 
thunder-stone  is  held  to  be  the  agent.     As  a  protection  against 
lightning  it  is  placed  under  the  rafters,  and  sacrifice  is  made 
to  it  of  cowries,  poultry,  or  kids,  when  it  is  smeared  with  the 
blood  of  the  sacrificed  animals,  or  with  milk.     The  Danish 
missionary  Monrad  mentions  this  belief  in  his  description  of 
the  Guinea  Coast,  and  makes  the  interesting  statement  that 
no  negro  dares  to  take  a  false  oath  when  near  such  a  thunder- 

1  Fr.   de   Zeltner,   "  Notes   sur  le      thropologie,  xviii.  (1907)  pp.  543  sq* 
prehistorique   Soudanais,"  in  L'An-          *  C.  Blinkenberg,  op.  at.  pp.  ^  sg. 

xvi  THE  OAK  191 

In  India  the  tribes  inhabiting  the  Naga  hills  of  Assam 
regard  prehistoric  stone  axes  or  celts  as  thunderbolts  and 
keep  them  as  charms  to  promote  the  fertility  of  the  rice  crop 
or  of  the  bean  crop.  "  These  celts  are  mostly  more  or  less 
triangular  with  a  plano-convex  cutting  edge,  polished  usually 
at  that  end  only,  though  occasionally  all  over.  As  a  rule  they 
are  roughly  shouldered,  probably  to  fit  into  a  socket  like  the 
shouldered  iron  hoes  still  in  use.  Mr.  Henry  Balfour  con- 
siders from  the  condition  of  their  cutting  edges  that  they  were 
mostly  axes,  but  the  occurrence  of  specimens  worn  down  at 
one  corner,  exactly  like  well-used  iron  hoes,  suggests  that 
some  at  any  rate  were  used  as  such."1 

In  discussing  the  worship  of  the  oak  I  had  occasion  to 
mention  the  old  Prussian  chronicler,  Simon  Grunau,  who 
described  the  sacred  oak  at  Remove  in  Prussia,  and  I  said  that 
I  did  not  know  whether  Simon  Grunau  was  the  same  person 
as  the  Symon  Grynaeus,  editor  of  the  work,  Novus  Orbis 
regionum  ac  insularum  veteribus  incognitarum  which  was 
published  in  Paris  in  1532.  On  this  subject  my  late  learned 
and  lamented  friend,  Salomon  Reinach,  in  Revue  Archaeo- 
logique,  1919,  p.  244,  pointed  out  that  the  author  of  the 
Novus  Orbis  was  quite  distinct  from  the  Prussian  chronicler, 
the  former  being  an  eminent  Greek  scholar,  a  friend  of 
Melanchthon  and  Luther,  and  editor  of  the  Almagest 
of  Ptolemy,  Euclid,  Plato,  Pollux,  Proclus,  and  John 

•   V-  H-  Hutton,  <-  The  Use  of  Stone     Royal  Anthropological  Society,   Ivi. 
m  the  Naga  Hills,"  in  Journal  of  the     (1926)?,  71. 



ELSEWHERE  I  have  argued  that  the  two  pairs  of  deities, 
Jupiter  and   Juno  and  Janus   and   Diana  were  originally 
identical,  both  in  name  and  in  function.     With  regard  to 
the  etymological  identity  of  their  names  I  will  quote  the 
opinion  of  the  eminent  philologist,  Max  Miiller.     He  says, 
"  It  may  be  useful  to  dwell  a  little  longer  on  the  curious 
conglomeration  of  words  which  have  all  been  derived  from 
the  same  root  as  Zeus.     That  root  in  its  simplest  form  is 
DYU.  * .  .  In  Latin,  initial  dy  is  represented  by/ ;  so  theju 
in  Jupiter  corresponds  exactly  with  Sanskrit  Dy  o.    Jovis, 
on  the  contrary,  is  a  secondary  form,   and  would  in  the 
nominative   singular   represent   a   Sanskrit   form   Dyavih. 
Traces  of  the  former  existence  of  an  initial  dj  in  Latin  have 
been  discovered  in  Diovis,  according  to  Varro  an  old  Italian 
name  for  Jupiter,  that  has  been  met  with  under  the  same 
form  in  Oscan  inscriptions.     Vejovis,  too,  an  old   Italian 
divinity,  is  sometimes  found  spelt    Vediovis,  dat.    Vediovi, 
ace.  Vediovem. 

"  That  the  Greek  Zen,  Zenos,  belongs  to  the  same  family 
of  words  has  never  been  doubted  ;  but  there  has  been  great 
diversity  of  opinion  as  to  the  etymological  structure  of  the 
word. .  I  explain  Zen,  as  well  as  Latin  Jan,  the  older  form  of 
/anus,  as  representing  a  Sanskrit  dyav-an,  formed  like  Pan 
from  the  root  pu,  raised  to  pav-an.  Now  as  yuvan,  juvenis, 
is  contracted  to  jun  in  junior,  so  dyavan  would  in  Latin 
become  Jan,  following  the  third  declension,  or,  under  a 
secondary  form,  Janus.  Janus-pater  in  Latin  was  used  as 
one  word,  like  Jupiter.  He  was  likewise  called  Junonius 


CHAP,  xvil  DIANUS  AND  DIANA  193 

and  Quirinus,  and  was,  as  far  as  we  can  judge,  another 
personification  of  Dyu,  the  sky,  with  special  reference,  how- 
ever, to  morning,  the  beginning  to  the  day  (Janus  matutinus), 
and  later  to  the  spring,  the  beginning  of  the  year.  The 
month  of  January  owes  its  name  to  him.  Now  as  Ju  :  Zeu  = 
Jan :  Zen,  only  that  in  Greek  Zen  remained  in  the  third  or 
consonantal  declension,  instead  of  migrating,  as  it  might  have 
done,  under  the  form  Zenos^  ou  into  the  second.  The  Latin 
Jun-o,  Jun-on-is  would  correspond  to  a  Greek  Zenon  as  a 
feminine." l 

1  F.  Max  Miiller,  Lectures  on  the  Science  of  Language  (New  Edit.,  London, 
1880),  u.  493 



IN  discussing  the  burden  of  royalty  I  have  elsewhere  given 

some  account  of  the  many  burdensome  prohibitions  or  taboos 

which  have  been  laid  on  royal  or  priestly  personages  in  all 

parts  of  the  world.1     The  list  of  such  taboos  may  be  much 

extended.     Here  I  will  add  a  few  examples.     Among  the 

Ibos  of  Southern  Nigeria  the  king  of  Nri  or  Aguku  is  bound 

to  observe  the  following  taboos.     He  may  not  see  a  corpse, 

not  even  of  one  of  his  own  children.     If  the  king  sees  a  dead 

body  he  must  take  an  egg,  pass  it  before  his  eyes,  and  throw 

it  away.     He  may  not  see  an  alose  (certain  pole  or  image) 

carried  along  the  road.     After  his  consecration  he  may  not 

see  his  mother  ;  his  son  will  undertake  her  burial  rites  when 

she  dies,  or,  if  there  is  no  son  old  enough,  her  family.     No 

one  of  the  king's  wives  may  enter  the  room  in  which  his 

sceptre  (aid)  is  kept.     No  one  may  take  corn  into  the  house 

in  which  the  sceptre  is  kept,  for  they  would  fall  sick.     A 

woman  who  has  not  washed  in  the  morning  may  not  salute 

the  king  nor  come  to  his  place.     Until  she  has  washed,  a 

king's  wife  may  not  salute  him,  which  she  does  by  clapping 

her  hands.     The  king  may  not  touch  the  water  of  the  lake 

with  his  foot.     He  may  use  it  for  washing  and  drinking,  but 

it  must  be  carried  to  his  house  by  small  boys  and  girls.     When 

water  is  being  carried  up  for  the  king  the  children  are  not  to 

speak  on  their  way  back  ;  if  they  speak  the  water  is  to  be 

thrown  away.     When  the  king  is  bathing  no  one  is  allowed 

to  rub  his  back  for  him.     Only  Adama  people  may  enter  the 

bath-house,  but  the  bath  water  is  thrown  away  by  the  king 

»  The  Golden  Bough,  Part  ii.,  Taboo  and  the  Perils  of  the  Soul,  pp.  1-17. 



himself.     When  the  king  gets  up  in  the  morning  he  may  not 
go  out  without  washing  his  feet,  hands,  and  face.     His  wives 
are  not  allowed  to  wash  with  other  women.     No  one  is 
allowed  to  step  over  his  wives1  legs,  nor  may  anyone  commit 
adultery  with  them.     The  shaving  of  his  head  is  attended 
with  various  ceremonies.     Yams  are  roasted  and  fish  and 
meat  prepared  for  an  old  woman.     She  takes  a  rod  and  eats 
the  food  transfixed  on  it  while  she  is  shaving  his  head.     The 
cut  hair  is  put  in  the  bush  on  a  wooden  shelf  resting  on  four 
posts  by  the  king  himself :  no  one  else  may  touch  it.     No 
one  may  enter  the  room  in  which  he  is  being  shaved,  unless 
it  be  one  of  his  servants.     The  king  himself  must  remove 
his  cap  on  this  as  on  other  occasions.     It  appears  that  his 
wives  also  may  now  shave  his  head.     A  widow,  for  whose 
husband  the  rite  of  second  burial  has  not  yet  been  performed, 
may  not  come  to  the  king's  house  and  the  king  may  not 
speak  to  her.     The  rules  with  regard  to  touching  the  king 
or  using  his  seat  are  very  severe.     No  adult  may  touch  him 
when  he  is  sitting  and  no  young  man  may  touch  his  skin 
under  any  circumstances.     The  king  will  even  refuse  to  take 
an  object  from  the  hands  of  a  young  man.     He  may  not  sit 
upon  the  ground,  but  a  mud  seat  with  a  mat  are  not  for- 
bidden to  him.     Beside  the  king  himself  only  young  children 
may  use  it.     He  may  not  use  the  same  stool  as  anyone  else. 
If  a  friend  of  the  king  eats  food  in  his  house  he  must  not 
wash  his  hands  after  it,  only  rub  them ;  if  he  washed  his 
hands  there  would  be  a  famine  in  the  land.     Nor  may  he 
lick  his  fingers  :  the  result  would  be  the  same.     The  king 
does  not  eat  food  in  the  house  of  another,  but  he  may  eat 
kola  and  drink.     If  he  is  to  eat  kola,  a  child  or  a  woman  may 
break  it  for  him  or  give  him  palm  wine.     If  he  breaks  kola 
himself,  no  one  else  may  eat  it.     He  does  not  eat  kola  which 
has  been  offered  as  a  sacrifice.     Certain  kinds  of  food  are 
forbidden  to  the  king.     He  does  not  eat  cassava  or  banana. 
If  he  eats  banana  he  must  wash  his  mouth.     He  may,  how- 
ever, eat  plantain.     No  one  may  see  the  king  eat,  and  no 
boy  above  the  age  of  puberty  may  cook  for  the  king,  nor 
may  any  woman ;  small  girls,  however,  may  do  so.     He 
may  eat  palm  nuts.     He  also  forbids  coco  yams  and  a  kind 
of  yam  known  as  ona  \  he  may  however  eat  igu.    When  the 


king  is  about  to  eat  and  after  he  has  eaten,  the  double  bell 
is  sounded,  which  is  beaten  by  a  small  child.  He  may  eat 
kola,  or  dried  meat,  or  fish  in  public,  but  would  have  to 
cover  his  mouth.  When  a  boy  cooks  for  him  he  may  not 
taste  anything.  The  king  throws  four  pieces  of  food  as  an 
offering  to  the  ancestral  spirits  (Ndicii).  The  Adama  boy 
who  serves  him  puts  out  four  pieces  of  mashed  yam,  and  the 
king  may  not  eat  more.  If  it  is  not  sufficient,  or  if  he 
wishes  to  make  some  complaint,  the  king  points  with  his  left 
hand.  If  he  speaks,  his  complaint  is  limited  to  the  words, 
"  This  Adama  boy."  The  remains  of  his  food  were  formerly 
thrown  away  or  eaten  by  the  Adama  boys.  But  he  has  now 
offered  a  goat  and  a  hen  to  the  sacred  shrine  (Ajand)  so 
that  his  own  children  may  be  permitted  to  eat  the  remains 
of  the  food.  If  he  attends  a  festival  at  which  the  food  is 
cooked  by  women,  his  food  is  not  taken  by  him  but  given  to 
other  people.  When  the  king  begins  to  eat,  his  servant 
says,  "  Let  no  one  talk,  let  my  father  Nri  become  a  leopard." 
(If  a  leopard  is  killed  its  body  is  brought  to  the  king.  It  is 
called  his  son.  There  is  an  obvious  connection  between  this 
and  the  nameof  thetown  Aguku,  which  means  "  big  leopard.") 
After  these  words  have  been  spoken  no  one  may  open  his 
mouth  until  the  king  has  finished  and  the  bell  has  been  rung 
again.  When  the  servant  has  washed  the  pots,  the  dirty 
water  and  any  remains  of  food  are  thrown  away  ;  the  ashes 
of  the  fire  are  also  thrown  in  the  same  place.  The  king 
is  not  allowed  to  eat  in  the  house  of  any  man,  except  in 
Umudiana.  When  the  king's  yams  are  being  planted,  he 
must  plant  either  yams  or  coco  yams  in  a  single  row,  that  is 
after  having  finished  one  row  he  may  not  turn  back  and 
begin  another  row  on  the  same  day.  When  he  is  working 
on  the  farm  the  king  may  not  use  a  hoe,  because  in  bending 
down  he  would  look  backwards.  Before  the  coming  of  the 
white  man  he  was  not  allowed  to  cross  water,  but  he  may 
sleep  away  from  home.  He  may  not  climb  a  tree  or  carry 
a  load  on  his  head.  He  may  not  enter  a  woman's  house  nor 
go  to  market.  If  a  dog  enters  his  house  it  may  be  driven 
out  or  killed;  its  body  is  carried  out  and  everything 
which  it  touches.  The  king  may  not  cross  the  door-frame. 
It  must  be  taken  out,  or,  failing  that,  he  may  climb  over  the 


wall.     He  may  not  lament  for  his  children,  but  he  mourns 
for  his  wives  like  an  ordinary  man.     If  they  die  a  "  bad 
death,"  sacrifice  is  offered  for  them  in  his  house  by  the 
Adama    people.1    With   regard    to    the    king  of   Onitsha, 
which  is  an  important  town  of  the  I  bo  on  the  Lower  Niger, 
we  are  told  that  "  the  announcement  of  the  death  of  the 
late  king  of  Onitsha  was  not  made  until  a  full  year  had 
elapsed  after  his  decease.     The  fact  that  no  one  saw  him 
during  the  interval  signified  nothing,  as  but  few  beyond  his 
own  personal  attendants  ever  did  see  him,  he  being  forbidden 
by  royal  custom  from  leaving  his  compound.     To  venture 
outside   the   gate  would   be    to   commit  an   act    of  grave 
sacrilege,    except   occasionally   by   night,    when   he   might 
surreptitiously  slip  out  to  visit  some  of  his  near  relatives."  2 

Similarly  the  king  of  Loango  may  never  leave  the  neigh- 
bourhood of  his  dwelling,  he  may  never  see  the  sea,  nor  any 
white  person  :  he  may  not  see  nor  handle  any  objects  of 
European  manufacture.  Every  subject  who  approaches  him 
must  wear  exclusively  articles  of  native  manufacture.  Strict 
quiet  must  prevail  about  him.  He  may  not  see  any  person 
eating  or  drinking,  or  performing  any  natural  function.  And 
the  remains  of  his  food  and  drink,  and  of  his  person,  must  be 
secretly  disposed  of.  His  spittle  is  collected  by  a  confidential 
attendant,  who  wipes  it  up  in  a  towel  of  bast.3 

Among  the  Wafipa,  a  tribe  inhabiting  the  eastern  shore  of 
Lake  Tanganyika,  the  royal  family  is  forbidden  by  ancient 
superstition  to  see  the  lake  or  to  eat  fish.4  With  regard  to  the 
curious  taboo  which  in  Africa  forbids  royal  personages  to 
behold  the  sea  or  a  lake,  we  may  note  that  in  Mindanao,  one 
of  the  Philippine  Islands,  there  is  reported  to  exist  a  whole 
tribe  living  in  a  crater-like  valley,  every  member  of  which 
believes  it  would  be  death  for  him  or  her  to  behold  the  sea, 
which  they  have  only  heard  of,  but  never  seen.6 

Among  the  Kam,  a  semi-Bantu  tribe  of  North  Nigeria, 

i  N.  W.  Thomas,  Anthropological  8  Die  Loango   Expedition,  in.    2» 

Report  on  the  Ibo-speaking  Peoples  of  p.  162. 

Nigeria,    Part    i.     (London,     1913)  .     .                      . 

pp.  52  sfg.    Cf.  P.  A.  Talbot,  The  -    Mg*.  Lechaptois,  Aux  Rives  du 

Peoples    of    Southern    Nigeria,    Hi.  T*ww*a,  p.  57. 

597  W-  6  Fay-Cooper     Cole,     The     mid 

»  G-.  T.   Basden,  Among  the  Ibos       Tribes  of  the  Davao  District,  Min~ 
of  Nigeria  (London,  1921),  p.  115.          danao,?.  183. 


"  the  chief  regards  himself  as  a  semi-divine  personage  and  is 
so  regarded  by  his  people.  He  leads  a  secluded  life  and  is 
subject  to  numerous  taboos.  He  must  not  be  seen  eating, 
must  not  eat  food  outside  his  own  compound,  must  not  eat 
food  cooked  by  a  menstruous  woman,  must  not  smoke,  must 
not  see  people  smoking  or  chewing  tobacco,  must  not  pick  up 
anything  from  the  ground,  must  not  put  his  foot  in  running 
water,  and  must  not  point  his  finger  at  any  person.  He  eats 
ceremonially  in  private,  his  food  being  cooked  by  a  favourite 
wife,  provided  she  is  not  in  a  menstruous  condition  ;  it  is 
brought  to  him  by  a  male  attendant  who  averts  his  eyes  while 
he  eats.  A  second  attendant,  a  sister's  son,  performs  duties 
such  as  fetching  water  for  the  chiefs  use  (and  he  is  required  to 
fetch  it  on  his  shoulders),  and  sweeping  the  chiefs  enclosure 
every  morning  (the  chief  may  not  enter  the  enclosure  if  it  has 
not  been  swept).  Both  these  attendants  were  in  former  times 
put  to  death  when  the  chief  died,  with  the  intention  that  they 
should  attend  to  him  in  the  next  world.  The  chief  acts  the 
part  of  the  character  ascribed  to  him.  He  speaks  in  a  low 
voice  (always  through  an  interpreter),  in  an  expressionless, 
impersonal  manner.  He  told  me  himself  that  he  was  a  deity, 
and  that  I  could  be  sure,  therefore,  that  in  giving  me  informa- 
tion about  the  other  deities  or  cults  of  the  Kam  it  would  be 
impossible  for  him  to  mislead  me,  as  deities  do  not  lie.  The 
chief  of  the  Kam,  like  the  king  of  the  Jukun,  is  closely  associ- 
ated with  corn,  and  carries  out  a  daily  ritual  by  which  he  feeds 
his  royal  ancestors,  particularly  the  last  deceased  chief,  who 
are  regarded  as  the  life  and  soul  of  the  crops. "  1 

Again  among  the  Kilba,  another  tribe  of  Northern  Nigeria, 
14  the  chief  was  regarded  as  a  divine  person,  and  was  subject, 
in  consequence,  to  numerous  taboos.  He  might  not  visit  the 
village  where  he  had  formerly  resided,  for  if  this  rule  were 
broken  disaster  would  fall  on  the  inhabitants.  He  might  not 
engage  in  any  agricultural  work,  nor  was  he  permitted  to  visit 
any  farm.  He  might  not  pick  up  anything  from  the  ground 
lest  the  dynamism  of  his  person  should  blast  the  crops.  If  he 
struck  the  ground  in  anger  the  people  would  be  confounded 
with  fear.  If  he  shook  his  fist  in  a  man's  face  that  man  would 
go  mad.  He  might  not  receive  any  article  from  the  hand  of 

1  C.  K,  Meek,  Tribal  Studies  in  Northern  Nigeria,  ii.  539  sg. 


any  save  the  official  known  as  the  Biratada.     If  he  fell  off  his 
horse  all  persons  riding  in  his  company  had  to  fall  off  also. 
The  mat  on  which  he  sat  was  regarded  as  charged  with  divine 
dynamism,  and  no  one  could  touch  it  except  for  the  purpose 
of  swearing  an  oath.     The  chief  was  not  supposed  to  require 
the  ordinary  nourishment  of  mortals,  and  he  therefore  ate  his 
food  in  private,  attended  only  by  the  Biratada.     While  the 
chief  was  eating  or  drinking  the  attendant  official  sat  with 
head  averted,  and  the  chief  signified  the  conclusion  of  the 
meal  by  uttering  a  cough.     The  official  then  smoothed  the 
ground  in  front  of  the  chief  in  order,  it  is  said,  to  cover  up  any 
of  the  sacred  food  that  may  have  dropped  on  the  ground, 
The  chiefs  meals  were  cooked  by  an  old  woman  past  the  age 
of  menstruation.     The  morning  meal  consisted  of  beer  taken 
at  sunrise.     The  evening  meal  of  porridge  and  stew  was  eaten 
at  sunset,  and  it  is  said  that  if  the  cook  had  failed  to  prepare 
the  meal  before  sunset  the  meal  would  not  be  eaten.  .  .  .  The 
Kilba  chief  was  not  permitted  to  eat  from  a  decorated  cala- 
bash ;   and  the  remnants  of  the  food  were  either  eaten  up  by 
the  attendant  official  (in  his  capacity  of  priest  in  attendance  on 
the  god)  or  else  were  given  to  the  chief's  dogs.     If  any  other 
were  to  eat  the  remnants  of  the  chiefs  meal  he  would  go  mad 
and  die.     If  the  chief  had  to  be  absent  from  Hong  he  was 
surrounded  by  grass  matting  when  he  wished  to  eat  and  drink. 
No  one  might  go  near  the  chiefs  lavatory,  and  if  a  new  lava- 
tory were  required  it  had  to  be  prepared  by  a  particular  family 
to  whom  this  special  duty  was  delegated.     Such  were  the 
ancient  rules  of  Kilba  chieftainship,  but  few  of  them  are 
observed  at  the  present  time.     They  are  the  rules  still  observed 
by  the  kings  of  the  Jukun."  l 

Among  the  I  bo  of  Southern  Nigeria  the  king  (Ezenri)  is 
not  the  only  person  who  is  subject  to  many  taboos.  The 
same  is  true  of  a  certain  priestly  official,  who  bears  the  title  of 
Ezana,  or  priest  of  the  ground.  (In  the  Ibo  language  ana 
means  ground  or  earth.)  When  any  law  is  abrogated  or 
violated  the  priest  of  the  ground  has  to  offer  a  sacrifice.  There 
is  usually  a  priest  of  the  ground  in  each  quarter  as  well  as  for 
a  whole  town.  It  is  for  him  to  decide  where  the  farms  are  to 
be  made,  and  he  chooses  his  own  farm,  which  is  worked  for 

»  C.  K.  Meek,  op.  cit.  i.  185  sy. 


him  by  men  of  the  different  families.     When  the  new  yams 
come  in,  a  sacrifice  is  offered  to  the  Earth  (ana\  but  the  priest 
of  the  ground  eats  the  first  yam  prepared  on  the  spot  the  day 
before  by  his  daughter  or  sister.     The  priest  of  the  ground  is 
subject  to  many  taboos  :  he  may  not  sit  upon  the  bare  ground 
nor  upon  the  same  skin  as  another  person  ;  earth  may  not  be 
thrown  at  him,  nor  may  he  be  assaulted  ;  he  may  not  sacrifice 
at  night,  nor  travel  at  night ;  he  may  not  see  a  corpse,  much 
less  carry  one.     When  he  meets  a  corpse  on  the  road  the  priest 
of  the  ground  of  Acala  passes  his  wristlet  over  his  eyes  and 
calls  an  Nri  man  to  sacrifice  a  chicken.     He  may  not  carry- 
things  on  his  head,  nor  climb  palm  trees,  nor  eat  cassava,  nor 
things  that  have  fallen  on  the  ground.     No  one  may  drink 
palm  wine  nor  eat  before  him.     No  one  but  his  wife  may  cook 
for  him.     In  Awka  a  dog  that  enters  his  house  is  thrown  out. 
He  may  not  touch  a  child  whose  head  has  not  been  shaved. 
Except  on  the  first  day  after  a  birth  he  may  not  enter  the  room 
where  it  has  taken  place  for  twelve  days.     He  may  not  put  on 
a  mask,  nor  touch  one,  and  a  masked  man  may  not  enter  his 
house.    As  a  rule  he  is  not  allowed  to  sleep  in  another  man's 
house  or  to  eat  there.     His  wives  may  not  allow  the  ashes  of 
his  fire  to  remain  until  morning,  for  the  ancestors  would 
punish  them  for  the  neglect.     At  certain  times  his  wives  are 
not  allowed  to  cook  for  him,  and  other  menstruous  women 
may  neither  salute  nor  touch  him.     His  wives  must  wash 
before  returning  into  the  house  in  the  morning.     He  is  safe 
from  seizure,  safe  in  war.     In  addition  to  the  ordinary  for- 
bidden animals  the  priest  of  the  ground  of  Awka  does  not  eat 
eggs,  all  birds,  dog  and  ewe  sheep,  bush-buck,  civet  cat,  giant 
bush  rat,  bush  fowl  and  yams  that  it  has  touched,  ground 
squirrel,  and  a  kind  of  fish.     In  one  quarter  of  Awka,  how- 
ever, the  priest  of  the  ground  may  sacrifice  eggs  and  eat  them, 
and  bush  fowl  is  the  only  bird  he  may  not  eat.     In  Agolo  he 
forbids  snails  and  a  tuber  called  ona,  like  a  yam.     He  may 
not  eat  a  cock  before  it  can  crow,  nor  a  snake.     If  his  wives 
do  not  wash  after  going  out  it  means  that  they  wish  his  death. 
They  may  not  cook  for  him.     If  they  commit  adultery  they 
must  come  to  the  priest  of  the  ground  and  bring  cowries,  a 
ram  and  a  fowl,  and  offer  excuses.     All  the  quarter  join  in 
levying  a  fine  upon  the  lover.    At  Nneni  he  may  not  eat  any- 


thing  that  has  been  sacrificed  on  account  of  the  violation  of  a 
taboo,  nor  may  he  cross  a  river  until  a  sacrifice  has  been 
performed  by  a  Nri  man.  The  corpse  of  a  dead  priest  of 
the  ground  is  not  carried  upon  men's  heads  but  upon  their 

Among  the  Sema  Nagas,  a  tribe  of  Assam,  there  is  a 
personage  called  the  Amthao  or  First  Reaper  who  is  subject 
to  many  taboos.     The  office  may  be  held  either  by  a  man  or 
by  a  woman.     It  is  his  or  her  business  to  start  the  cutting  of 
each  crop,  and  in  the  case  of  paddy  and  Job's  tears — not 
always,  however,  of  the  millet  crop — the  harvest  is  accom- 
panied by  strict  prohibitions.     And  on  the  day  when  the  First 
Reaper  initiates  the  cutting  of  the  paddy  every  house  in  the 
village  gives  him  or  her  a  measure  of  paddy  (about  a  seer\ 
except  those  who  are  so  poor  that  they  can  only  give  beans. 
The  office  is  unpopular,  as  the  unfortunate  First  Reaper  is 
liable  to  die  if  he  makes  any  mistake  in  the  conduct  of  a 
ceremony,  in  particular  that  of  the  village  ritual  (genna)  known 
as  asukuchu,  which  is  only  observed  occasionally  in  a  year 
when  the  harvest  promises  to  be  exceptionally  good,  each  ward 
of  the  village  (asah  or  khel}  sacrificing  a  pig  on  the  outskirts 
of  the  village.     The  office  sometimes  runs  in  families,  the 
nearest  suitable  male  relative  being  compelled  to  succeed  in 
the  place  of  a  deceased  First  Reaper.     A  man  or  woman  who 
is  fastidious  about  food  is  selected,  at  any  rate  if  possible,  and 
the  food  restrictions  are  often  very  onerous.    So  long  as  the 
harvest  lasts  (the  millet  harvest  excepted)  the  First  Reaper 
may  not  eat  the  flesh  of  an  animal  killed  or  wounded  by  any 
wild  beast,  nor  that  of  the  kalij  pheasant  or  dorik,  nor  of  the 
Arakan  Hill  partridge  or  duboy,  nor  the  grubs  and  honey  of 
bees  and  wasps,  nor  smell  beans,  nor  bamboo  rat's  nor  dog's 
flesh.     The  last  two  of  these  are  in  point  of  fact  taboo  to  the 
whol^;  village  during  the  harvest,  but  in  some  cases  they  all,  or 
some  of  them,  are  taboo  to  the  First  Reaper  at  all  times.2 

1  N.  W.  Thomas,  op.  cit.  pp.  56  sq. 
*  J.  H.  Hutton,  The  Sema  Nagas  (London,  1921),  pp.  216  sq. 



LIKE  many  other  peoples  the  natives  of  Yap,  one  of  the 
Caroline  Islands  in  the  Pacific,  conceive  of  the  soul  (yatat)  as 
an  invisible  body  dwelling  within  the  visible  body  and  re- 
sembling it  in  form  exactly.     The  soul  is  thus  a  faithful  image 
of  the  body.     This  primitive  conception  of  the  soul  is  perhaps 
the  principal  reason  which  leads  many  persons  to  identify  a 
person's  soul  with  his  likeness.     Hence  when  any  mischievous 
spirit  of  the  sea  catches  a  man's  reflection  in  the  water,  the 
man  must  die,  because  the  spirit  has  robbed  him  of  his  soul. 
For  the  same  reason  many  old  women  on  the  island  are  afraid 
to  be  photographed,  and  one  native  expression  for  photo- 
graphing isfekya'al,  "  to  take  away  the  soul.1'     The  native 
entertains  a  similar  opinion  concerning  animals  and  lifeless 
things  ;   they  too,  in  his  opinion,  have  souls.     The  dead  can 
take  away  the  things  that  have  been  deposited  with  him  in  the 
grave  because  he  carries  off  with  him  their  shadow-picture 
(Jon).     Hence  the  native  expression  for  photographing  lifeless 
things  isfekfon,  "  to  take  away  their  shadow-picture."  2 

Similarly  the  Bare'e-speaking  Toradyas  of  Central  Celebes 
conceive  the  human  soul  as  a  miniature  likeness  of  the  man, 
but  they  think  that  on  occasion  the  soul  may  assume  other 
forms,  particularly  that  of  an  animal,  such  as  a  butterfly,  a 
worm,  a  snake,  or  a  mouse.  The  soul  can  quit  the  body  for  a 
time  in  life,  but  if  it  does  not  soon  return,  the  person  dies.3 

The  ancient  Egyptian  doctrine  of  the  soul  was  defined  as 

1  Cf.  Taboo  and  the  Perils  of  the  in  Anthropos,  viii.  (1913)   610  $q. 
Soul,  pp.  26  sq.  »  N.  Adriani  and  A.  C.  Kruijt,  De 

2  S.     Walleser,     "  Religiose     An-  Bare'e-sprekende  Toradjas  van  Mid- 
schauungen  der  Bewohner  von  Jap/'  den-Celebes  >  i.  250  sq. 



follows  by  Professor  Alexandra  Moret :  "  In  like  manner 
the  Egyptians  believed  that  everything  that  lives — gods, 
men,  animals,  trees,  stones,  and  all  objects  whatsoever — 
encloses  its  own  diminutive  image,  which  is  its  soul.  They 
called  that  image  or  projection  of  the  individual  Ka ;  we 
translate  it  as  Double  or  Genie  ;  the  Ka  is  represented  as  a 
being  somewhat  smaller  than  the  person  in  whom  he  is  in- 
dwelling but  in  other  respects  exactly  like  him."  x 

Savages  commonly  believe  that  the  soul  can  leave  the  body 
in  life  and  return  to  it,  but  that  if  the  absence  is  prolonged 
the  owner  of  the  soul  dies.  Hence  in  order  to  save  the  life 
of  the  sick  or  dying  they  attempt  to  detain  the  soul  in  the 
body  by  plugging  or  tying  up  those  parts  of  the  patient's 
body  by  which  they  believe  the  soul  to  depart,  hoping  thus 
to  detain  the  soul,  and  so  to  prolong  the  life  of  the  sufferer. 
The  soul  is  very  often  supposed  to  depart  through  the  nostrils 
or  mouth.  Hence  the  Boloki  or  Bangala  of  the  Upper 
Congo  tie  up  the  mouth  and  nostrils  of  a  dying  person  in 
order  to  prevent  his  soul  from  escaping.  Our  informant, 
Mr.  Weeks,  observes  :  "I  noticed  that  the  mouths  and 
nostrils  of  the  recently  dead  were  always  plugged  and  tied, 
and  to  my  questions  on  the  subject  I  always  received  the 
same  reply,  '  The  soul  of  a  dying  man  escapes  by  his  mouth 
and  nose,  so  we  always  tie  them  in  that  fashion  to  keep  the 
spirit,  as  long  as  possible,  in  the  body/  "  2 

The  Bare'e-speaking  Toradyas  of  Central  Celebes  suppose 
that  the  soul  lodges  in  the  crown  of  the  head,  but  that  it 
passes  out  of  the  body  at  the  wrists  and  other  joints.  Hence 
when  a  person  is  very  sick  his  friends  tie  up  his  joints  to 
prevent  the  escape  of  his  soul,  or  according  to  others  the 
ingress  of  the  demon  who  is  causing  the  sickness.3  The 
Palaungs  of  Burma  think  that  they  can  detain  the  soul  of  a 
dying  person  by  tying  a  white  thread  round  his  or  her  wrists, 
while  they  say,  "  We  shall  not  let  thee  fly  away,  we  would  tie 
thy  spirit  here."  4 

Among  the  Mailu  of  British  New  Guinea,  when  a  man  is 

1  A.   Moret,   In   the  Time  of  the          *  N.  Adriani  and  A.  C.  Kruijt,  op, 
Pharaohs,  p.  188.  fit.  i.  248. 

2  J.     H.     Weeks,     Among  Congo          *  Mrs.  L.  Milne,  The  Home  of  an 
Cannibals,  p.  262.  Eastern  Clan,  p.  307. 


dying  a  medicine-man  (vara)  is  sent  for, "  probably  when  some 
relatives  are  away,  to  tie  the  patient.  After  uttering  a  spell 
and  using  gentle  massage  he  fastens  round  the  patient  a 
cord  or  strip  of  cane,  not  in  hope  of  recovery  but  to  retard 
death  until  the  absent  relatives  return.  They  call  this  attempt 
to  retard  death  nena  badibadi  (breath-tying),  and  it  is  regarded 
as  tying  the  soul  of  the  man  to  his  body.  People  have  come 
to  me  and  told  me  that  so-and-so  is  sitting  tied — really  propped 
up  in  the  arms  of  someone — that  his  soul  may  not  leave  his 
body  yet.  This  is  not  to  be  confused  with  the  tying  of  string 
or  cane  to  relieve  pain.11  * 

But  even  when  the  soul  of  a  sick  or  dying  person  is  thought 
to  have  escaped  from  his  body,  savages  often  believe  that  they 
can  recall  the  truant  soul  and  restore  it  to  the  patient's  body, 
so  that  he  will  recover.  Elsewhere  I  have  given  examples 
of  restoring  lost  souls  to  their  owners.2  Here  I  will  illustrate 
it  with  some  fresh  instances.  Thus  for  example  in  the  Short- 
lands  group  of  the  Solomon  Islands  "  if  a  man  falls  and 
hurts  himself  during  the  day  his  friends  and  relatives  at 
evening  make  a  tripod  of  sticks  5  or  6  feet  high,  and  in  a 
cocoa-nut  shell  placed  on  the  top  a  small  fire  is  made.  This  is 
about  sundown,  and  the  friends  or  relatives  then  retire  to  a 
distance  of  25  or  30  yards  away,  and  call  on  the  hurt  man  by 
name,  telling  him  to  come  back.  This  is  repeated  until  an 
ember  falls  out  of  the  fire.  During  this  ceremony  the  old 
men  will  be  seated  with  their  hands  to  their  ears  listening  so 
that  they  can  hear  the  spirit  answering,  and  questions  will  be 
asked,  such  as,  *  Do  you  not  hear  me  ?  '  Then,  '  Oh  yes, 
we  hear  you,'  and  so  on.  The  idea  seems  to  be  that  the  man's 
shade  (nununa)  has  been  taken  away  from  the  body  by  the 
fall,  and  it  has  to  be  called  back,  or  other  spirits  may  get 
between  it  and  the  body  and  prevent  its  return,  and  so  cause 
the  latter's  sickness  or  even  death.  When  the  ember  falls 
out  of  the  cocoa-nut  in  which  the  fire  is  placed  it  is  regarded 
as  conclusive  evidence  that  the  shadow  or  spirit  has  safely 
returned  to  the  body.  When  the  man  has  recovered  from  the 
effects  of  the  fall  the  stem  of  the  wild  plantain,  which  is  about 
eight  or  nine  feet  high,  is  placed  on  the  ground,  and  is  sup- 

1  W.  J.   V.   Savillfi,  In   Unknown          2  Taboo  and  the  Perils  of  the  Soult 
New  Guinea^  p.  319.  pp.  43  5qq. 


ported  by  several  men.  The  man  who  fell  down  climbs  up 
this  plantain  stem,  and  as  soon  as  he  reaches  the  top  the  men 
holding  it  let  go,  and  plantain  and  man  fall  together  to  the 
ground.  This  is  repeated  three  times,  with  intervals  consist- 
ing of  days,  or  even  weeks.  This  ceremony  is  supposed  to 
prevent  further  falls."  x  At  Sa'a  in  Mala,  one  of  the  Solomon 
Islands,  when  a  child  is  sick  its  strayed  soul  is  sought  for  by 
a  priest  who  holds  a  sprig  of  dracaena  in  his  hand.  The 
wandering  soul  then  lights  on  the  dracaena,  from  which  it  is 
transferred  to  a  pandanus  umbrella,  where  it  is  heard  scratch- 
ing. The  umbrella  is  then  held  over  the  child,  and  the  soul 
returns  to  the  child,  who  gives  a  convulsive  shudder  and 

In  San  Cristoval,  one  of  the  Solomon  Islands,  the  task  of 
recovering  the  lost  soul  of  a  sick  person  is  entrusted  to  a 
magician,  who  sends  out  his  own  soul  in  pursuit  of  the  fugi- 
tive, and  brings  it  back  to  the  patient.  For  this  purpose  the 
magician  goes  into  a  trance.  He  retires  to  his  own  house, 
darkens  it,  strips  off  all  his  clothing,  and  lying  down  goes  to 
sleep.  While  he  is  in  this  state  no  one  may  disturb  him,  for 
if  he  were  so  disturbed  his  own  soul  might  not  return  to  him 
and  he  might  die.  His  business  is  to  find  the  strayed  soul  of 
the  sick  man.  Perhaps  the  sick  man's  soul  has  gone  to  a 
place  where  there  are  ghosts  or  spirits  (adaro  or  hfonf),  or 
perhaps  the  soul  has  been  captured  by  one  of  these  ghosts  or 
spirits.  A  sickness  so  caused  is  a  dangerous  matter.  A  whole 
crowd  of  ghosts  or  spirits  may  be  seated  gloating  over  the 
captive  soul  and  refusing  to  let  it  go  home.  Still  more 
dangerous  is  it  if  the  sick  man's  soul  has  been  caught  by  a 
spirit  of  the  sea,  for  the  soul  of  the  magician  cannot  go  to  the 
place  of  its  imprisonment.  But  most  serious  of  all  is  it  if  the 
strayed  soul  has  gone  to  the  Winged  Serpent  in  the  sky.  But 
usually  the  soul  has  simply  departed  to  Rodomana,  the  abode 
of  the  dead,  from  which  it  is  a  comparatively  easy  matter  for 
the  magician  to  rescue  it.  One  magician  told  how  his  own 
soul  pursued  the  soul  of  a  patient  to  Rodomana,  where  he 
found  the  soul  of  the  patient  dancing  with  the  souls  of  the 

1  G.  Brown,  Melanesians  and  Poly-       South-east  Solomon  Islands  (London, 
nesians,  pp.  208  sy.  1927),  p*  7  8* 

*  W.  G.  Ivens,  Melanesians  of  the 


dead,  and  refusing  to  return,  but  with  the  help  of  a  friend 
whom  he  had  among  the  dead  the  magician  contrived  to  seize 
the  patient's  soul  and  to  hurry  back  with  it  to  earth.     If  the 
soul  of  the  sick  man  is  detained  in  one  of  the  sacred  places,  the 
soul  of  the  magician  goes  in  search  of  it.     He  looks  in  at  all 
the  likely  places,  such  as  burial  places,  sacred  stones,  and  very 
often  in  the  hollows  in  the  trunks  of  trees.     He  adopts  the 
same  means  as  before.     But  if  the  soul  of  the  patient  has  been 
captured  by  a  spirit  of  the  sea  the  matter  is,  as  we  have  seen, 
more  serious,  because  the  soul  of  the  magician  cannot  follow 
it  out  to  sea.     In  this  case  he  again  resorts  to  the  help  of  a 
friend.     He  goes  down  to  the  sea  and  gets  a  garfish.    This 
he  brings  back  and  lays  on  the  patient's  navel  and  waves  it 
four  times  round  his  head.     He  then  puts  the  fish  back  in  the 
sea.     After  that  he  waits  till  evening  and  then  falls  into  a 
trance.     In  his  trance  his  soul  goes  down  to  the  shore  to  the 
place  where  he  let  the  garfish  go  back  into  the  sea.     There  he 
waits  for  his  friend,  who  by  and  by  brings  back  the  lost  soul 
of  the  sick  person.     The  garfish  is  the  fish  of  the  spirit  of  the 
sea,  with  which  he  shoots  men  on  the  reef.     But  if  the  magi- 
cian looks  in  vain  in  Rodomana,  the  sacred  places,  and  the  sea, 
he  concludes  that  the  Winged  Serpent  must  have  taken  the 
strayed  soul.     This  is  the  case  in  very  serious  sicknesses,  and 
probably  in   epidemics.     In  this   emergency  the  magician 
takes  the  fat  of  a  sacrificed  pig  (formerly  of  a  dog)  and  burns 
it,  and  goes  into  his  trance  in  the  evening,  and  his  soul 
ascends  in  the  column  of  smoke  to  the  sky.     There  also  be 
finds  a  friend  to  speak  for  him,  and  this  friend  asks  the 
Winged  Serpent  to  give  up  the  sick  man's  soul.     He  may  ask 
three  times,  but  if  he  asks  a  fourth  time  and  is  refused,  the 
magician  must  return  without  the  patient's  soul,  and  the  sick 
man  will  die,  for  there  is  no  snatching  of  the  soul  possible 
in  the  abode  of  the  Winged  Serpent.1 

The  Kiwai  of  British  New  Guinea  identify  the  soul  with 
the  shadow,  reflection,  or  picture.  A  man  can  steal  the  soul 
of  somebody  else  by  catching  his  shadow  at  night  in  a  piece 
of  bamboo  open  at  one  end,  which  he  afterwards  plugs  and 
keeps  over  his  fireplace  until  he  chooses  to  release  the  soul. 
The  owner  of  the  soul  will  gradually  grow  thin,  and  if  the 

1  C.  E.  Fox,  The  Threshold  of  the  Pacific,  p.  243. 


bamboo  be  burnt,  the  man  will  die.  For  this  reason  a  man 
who  goes  out  at  night  carries  his  torch  high  in  the  air,  so  that 
his  body  may  cast  as  short  a  shadow  as  possible.  A  Kiwai 
man  once  refused  to  take  part  in  a  dance  with  some  visiting 
bushmen,  because  in  the  midst  of  the  many  flickering  fires 
his  shadow  could  easily  have  been  caught.  The  souls  of  sick 
persons  are  in  danger  of  being  abducted  by  malevolent  spirits 
or  otherwise  leaving  the  body,  as  for  example  in  sleep. 
Hence  a  sick  person  is  not  allowed  to  sleep  too  much,  for  the 
natives  are  afraid  lest  he  might  not  wake  up  any  more,  and 
for  that  reason  they  wake  him  up  at  short  intervals.  In 
cases  of  serious  illness  the  patient's  friends  light  a  fire  outside 
his  hut  and  watch  the  road  which  the  spirits  are  supposed  to 
take,  apparently  in  order  to  bar  the  departure  of  the  patient's 
soul.  If  the  wandering  soul  of  a  sick  person  be  seen  in  the 
company  of  some  spirit,  it  may  be  brought  back  by  people 
versed  in  such  things.  Such  a  sage,  holding  one  end  of  a 
plaited  arm-guard  or  bracer  in  his  hand,  goes  and  catches  the 
soul  in  the  bracer,  which  he  closes  with  his  other  hand. 
Carrying  the  bracer,  he  hastens  into  the  sick  man's  house 
through  the  west  entrance,  which  is  the  direction  in  which  the 
spirits  depart.  He  touches  both  door-posts  with  his  shoulders 
to  block  the  way  so  that  the  soul  cannot  go  out  again,  and  at 
the  same  time  pretends  to  throw  the  soul  into  the  house.  The 
patient  is  sitting  with  his  back  towards  the  door,  and  the 
"  doctor  "  or  wizard  runs  up  to  him  and  pushes  in  the  soul, 
hitting  him  on  the  back,  a  gesture  which  is  connected  with 
the  idea  that  the  soul  is  situated  in  the  back.  The  patient  at 
once  comes  round  as  his  soul  returns.  But  if  the  doctor  fails 
to  capture  the  strayed  soul,  the  patient  will  die.  In  the  same 
way  the  soul  of  a  sick  child  is  snatched  away  in  a  basket  from 
spirits  who  have  come  to  carry  it  off.1 

For  the  purpose  of  catching  wandering  souls  of  sick  persons 
or  others  a  Kiwai  wizard  or  medium  goes  about  carrying  a 
long  wicker-work  glove  for  covering  the  wrist,  a  gauntlet. 
It  is  carried  in  the  left  hand,  and  with  the  right  hand  the 
medium  catches  the  spirit  or  soul  and  puts  it  into  the  gauntlet. 
He  then  takes  it  and  places  it  against  the  back  of  the  sick 
man  ;  the  spirit  enters  his  body,  and  the  invalid  makes  a  quick 

1  G.  Landtman,  The  Kiwai  Papuans  of  British  New  Guinea,  pp.  269  sy. 


recovery.  The  spirit  of  a  woman  who  is  about  to  give  birth 
to  a  child  may  be  seen  sitting  on  the  veranda  of  the  house. 
A  wizard  is  called.  He  may  catch  the  spirit  in  his  gauntlet 
or  drive  it  away  with  his  broom.  If  he  brings  the  spirit  back 
to  the  woman,  she  is  at  once  delivered  of  her  child.1 

Among  the  Kai  of  Northern  New  Guinea  when  a  native 
doctor  or  magician  is  called  in  to  visit  a  patient,  the  only 
question  with  him  is  whether  the  sickness  is  caused  by  a  sor- 
cerer or  by  a  ghost.     To  decide  this  nice  point  he  takes  a 
boiled  taro  over  which  he  has  pronounced  a  charm.     This  he 
bites,  and  if  he  finds  a  small  stone  in  the  fruit,  he  decides  that 
ghosts  are  the  cause  of  the  malady  ;  but  if  on  the  other  hand 
he  detects  a  minute  roll  of  leaves  he  knows  that  the  sufferer 
is  bewitched.     In  the  latter  case  the  obvious  remedy  is  to 
discover  the  sorcerer  and  to  induce  him,  for  an  adequate 
consideration,  to  give  up  the  tube  in  which  he  has  bottled  up 
a  portion  of  the  sick  man's  soul.     If  the  magician  refuses  to 
give  it  up  the  resources  of  the  physician  are  not  yet  exhausted. 
He  now  produces  his  whip  or  scourge  for  souls.     This  valu- 
able instrument  consists,  like  a  common  whip,  of  a  handle  with 
a  lash  attached  to  it,  but  what  gives  it  the  peculiar  quality 
that  distinguishes  it  from  all  other  whips  is  the  small  packet 
tied  to  the  end  of  the  lash.  The  packet  contains  a  certain  herb, 
and  the  sick  man  and  his  friends  must  all  touch  it  in  order  to 
impregnate  it  with  the  volatile  essence  of  their  souls.     Armed 
with  this  potent  implement  the  doctor  goes  by  night  into  the 
depth  of  the  forest ;  for  the  darkness  of  night  and  the  solitude 
of  the  forest  are  necessary  for  the  delicate  operation  which  this 
good  physician  of  souls  has  now  to  perform.     Finding  him- 
self alone  he  whistles  for  the  lost  soul  of  the  sufferer,  and  if 
only  the  sorcerer  by  his  infernal  craft  has  not  yet  brought  it 
to  death's  door,  the  soul  appears  at  the  sound  of  the  whistle  ; 
for  it  is  strongly  attracted  by  the  soul-stuff  of  its  friends  in  the 
packet.     But  the  doctor  has  still  to  catch  it,  a  feat  that  is  not 
so  easily  accomplished  as  might  be  supposed.     It  is  now  that 
the  whip  of  souls  comes  into  play.     Suddenly  the  doctor  heaves 
up  his  arm  and  lashes  out  at  the  truant  soul  with  all  his  might. 
If  only  he  hits  it,  the  business  is  done,  the  soul  is  captured,  the 
doctor  carries  it  back  to  the  house  in  triumph,  and  restores  it 

1  E.  Baxter  Riley,  Among  Papuan  Hcadhunterst  pp.  296  sg* 


to  the  body  of  the  poor  sick  man,  who  necessarily  recovers.1 
The  Yabim  of  Northern  New  Guinea  believe  that  there 
are  water-spirits  who  steal  the  souls  of  children.  To  guard 
their  offspring  against  them  women  do  not  bathe  their  children 
in  a  stream  but  in  an  artificial  bath.  If,  however,  a  child 
sickens,  and  the  water-spirits  are  thought  to  have  stolen  its 
soul,  an  experienced  woman  takes  a  coconut  shell  used  as  a 
vessel  and  attaches  it  by  a  string  to  a  cross-bar,  and  goes  with 
it  to  a  stream.  There  she  puts  the  coconut-shell  in  the  water, 
and  holding  it  like  a  fishing-line  by  the  cross-bar  or  handle, 
she  draws  it  to  and  fro,  so  that  the  coconut  shell  bobs  up  and 
down  in  the  water.  Attracted  by  the  apparatus  the  water- 
spirits  bring  the  child's  soul  to  the  coconut  shell.  The 
woman  then  carries  the  shell  full  of  water  to  the  house  and 
bathes  the  sick  child  in  the  water  of  the  shell.  Thus  the  little 
sufferer  recovers  its  lost  soul.2 

Among  the  Bare'e-speaking  Toradyas  of  Central  Celebes 
there  are  priestesses  whose  chief  business  it  is  to  bring  back 
the  souls  of  sick  people  which  have  been  carried  away  by 
demons  or  ghosts.  Also  they  watch  over  people's  souls  when 
they  move  into  a  new  house,  for  souls  can  then  be  easily 
damaged  by  angry  tree-spirits.  The  priestesses  also  bring 
back  the  soul  of  the  rice,  and  procure  rain  or  dry  weather. 
Every  priestess  has  her  familiar  woerake  spirit  who  descends 
to  her  and  accompanies  her  up  into  the  air.  Yellow-coloured 
rice,  an  egg,  and  a  fowl  are  provided,  that  she  may  take  them 
with  her  in  her  flight  as  an  offering  to  the  great  spirits.  She 
sits  under  a  hood  hung  from  a  rafter ;  holding  dracaena 
leaves  in  her  hand,  she  chants,  with  closed  eyes,  her  litany, 
in  which  she  describes  her  soul's  flight  and  adventures.  The 
language  of  the  litany  is  not  the  common  language  :  it  is 
supposed  to  be  the  language  of  the  spirits.  There  are  three 
parts  of  the  litany.  The  stem  (watanja)  or  principal  part  of 
the  litany  describes  the  journey  of  the  priestess's  soul  in 
search  of  the  patient's  lost  soul.  The  ship  of  the  spirit,  who 
comes  to  help  the  priestess,  is  the  rainbow  ;  in  it  she  and  her 
familiar  spirit  fly  aloft.  She  describes  her  arrival  at  the  house 

1  Ch.  Keysser, "  Aus  dem  Leben  der      Belief  in  Immortality  (London,  1913), 
Kaileute"  in  R.  Neuhauss,  Deutsck-      i.  270. 
Neu- Guinea,  iii.   134.     Compare  my          *  R.  Neuhauss,  op.  cit.  ill.  294. 


of  Poee  di  Songi,  the  chief  god.     She  finds  the  deity  asleep, 
and  wakens  him.     The  fire  has  gone  out.     Fresh  fire  having 
been  procured  from  the  spirits,  the  drum  in  the  temple  is 
sounded,  and  at  the  signal  all  the  spirits  assemble  in  the 
temple.     In  the  assembly  the  chief  god  asks  the  priestess  her 
errand.     She  tells  him  she  has  come  for  so-and-so's  soul. 
The  god  gives  it  back  to  her,  and  she  carries  it  down  to 
earth  in  a  calabash.     The  priestess  restores  the  lost  soul  to 
the  patient's  head  with  a  bunch  of  dracaena  leaves.    After 
restoring  the  soul  she  puts  some  cooked  rice  and  a  piece  of  a 
boiled  egg  in  the  patient's  hair  on  the  crown  of  his  head. 
This  is  known  as  the  feeding  of  the  soul.     At  the  end  of  the 
ceremony  the  priestess  sends  back  her  familiar  spirit  into  the 
air  by  throwing  up   a  roll   of  dracaena  leaves.    Of  this 
ceremony  of  the  recall  of  the  soul  there  are  branches  or  varia- 
tions, according  to  the  nature  of  its  object  or  of  the  spirit 
which  has  caused  the  sickness.     The  dead  draw  away  the 
souls  of  their  relatives  to  the  spirit-land  ;    hence  after  every 
death  a  priestess  comes  to  fetch  back  the  abstracted  souls  to 
earth.     The  soul  is  in  most  cases  supposed  to  be  carried  off 
by  a  tree-spirit  or  cave-spirit,  and  often  an  attempt  is  made 
to  recover  it  without  the  help  of  a  priestess.     A  relation  goes 
to  the  tree,  makes  an  offering  to  the  spirit,  and  asks  him  to 
give  back  the  soul  of  the  sick  man.     Sneezing  is  a  sign  that 
the  man's  soul  has  returned  to  him.     In  serious  cases  when 
the  priestess  has  brought  back  the  patient's  soul,  a  wooden 
puppet  is  made  and  dressed  as  a  man  if  the  patient  is  a 
woman,  but  is  dressed  as  a  woman  if  the  patient  is  a  man. 
A  small  sacrificial  table  is  set  up,  and  on  it  are  laid  rice, 
wooden  models  of  a  knife,  a  sword,  a  spear,  and  so  on. 
Bamboo  ladders  are  constructed  to  serve  as  ladders  for  the 
tree-spirit  or  cave-spirit  to  descend  to  the  offering.    The 
puppet  is  offered  to  the  spirit  in  exchange  for  the  sick  person's 
soul.    While  the  patient  holds  one  end  of  a  string,  of  which 
the  other  is  attached  to  the  sacrificial  table,  the  priestess 
recites  a  litany  in  which  she  tells  the  tree-spirit  or  cave-spirit 
that  he  has  come  to  the  wrong  place,  and  that  he  had  better 
go  elsewhere.     A  fowl  is  thrown  into  the  air  to  carry  the 
offering  to  the  spirit.     Omens  of  recovery  or  death  are  drawn 
by  hacking  through  the  bamboo  stalk  that  has  served  as  a 



ladder.     If  one  cut  suffices  to  sever  the  bamboo  the  patient 
will  recover  ;   if  more  cuts  are  necessary,  he  will  die.     When 
all  other  remedies  have  failed,  recourse  is  had  to  the  mowase, 
a  more  elaborate  form  of  the  preceding  ceremony.     The 
offering  is  generally  brought  for  all  the  inhabitants  of  a  house 
or  of  a  village.     Sometimes  it  is  brought  to  get  children. 
A  little  house  is  made  for  the  spirits,  and  a  sacrificial  table  is 
erected.     Two  small  ladders  are  brought  of  very  hard  wood 
to  bring  back  the  spirit  and  fix  it  firmly  in  its  place.     All  who 
take  part  in  the  ceremony  hold  a  line  which  is  fastened  to  the 
sacrificial  table.     An  address  is  made  to  the  spirits,  who  are 
told  that  a  buffalo,  a  pig,  and  a  fowl,  bearing  the  guilt  of  the 
people,  are  offered  to  them.     As  before,  omens  of  recovery  or 
death  are  drawn  from  the  hacking  through  of  a  bamboo. 
The  sacrificial  animals  are  killed,  and  their  blood  is  smeared 
on  the  patient,  and  on  all  persons  present.     The  priestesses 
receive  portions  of  the  victims  ;  the  rest  of  the  flesh  furnishes 
a  banquet.     When  the  necessary  victims  are  wanting,  a  vow 
is  made  to  offer  them  later.     Sometimes  the  soul  of  a  sick 
person  is  thought  to  have  been  carried  off  by  the  souls  of  the 
dead  who  live  in  the  temple.     In  that  case  the  priestess  offers 
seven  pieces  of  ginger  on  a  board  to  the  spirits  in  the  temple 
in  exchange  for  the  patient's  soul.     Or  a  warrior  may  vow 
to  bring  back  a  human  head  in  case  the  patient  should  recover. 
If  the  sickness  is  thought  to  be  caused  by  the  spirits  of  the 
smithy,  a  small  model  of  a  smithy  is  made  and  waved  seven 
times  over  the  patient's  head  ;   after  which  it  is  wafted  aloft 
by  the  litany  of  the  priestess.     If  the  sickness  is  thought  to  be 
caused  by  the  spirits  of  the  ricefield,  the  priestess  makes  a 
chain  of  beads  on  a  string  and  waves  it  over  the  patient,  who 
afterwards  wears  it  round  his  neck.     If  the  spirits  cause  a 
man  pain  in  one  of  his  limbs,  he  offers  them  a  string  of  kalide 
fruits,  and  then  wears  it  on  the  ailing  member  till  it  drops  off. 
When  a  man  returns  from  a  journey  or  an  expedition,  he 
sometimes  leaves  his  soul  behind  him  and  brings  back  some 
injurious  substance  in  his  body  instead.     So  the  priestess  must 
come  and  recall  the  soul  and  eject  the  foreign  substance  from 
the  sufferer.     After  invoking  the  spirits,  the  priestess  strokes 
the  patient's  body  and  limbs  with  a  bunch  of  life-giving  plants. 
The  patient  is  then  covered  with  a  blanket,  and  the  priestess 


strikes  the  blanket  with  a  bunch  of  thorny  plants  in  order  to 

drive  the  evil  out  of  the  sufferer's  body.     She  then  shakes  the 

blanket  out  of  the  window,  in  order  to  rid  it  of  the  evil  which 

has  been  transferred  to  it  from  the  patient.     When  a  man  has 

been  frightened,  as  by  the  attack  of  a  wild  buffalo,  a  crocodile, 

or  a  python,  it  is  thought  that  his  soul  has  quitted  his  body 

and  must  be  recalled.     The  priestess  makes  the  figure  of  a 

serpent  out  of  leaves  and  strokes  it  over  the  man's  body, 

chanting  her  litany,  while  she  beats  the  figure  with  a  bunch 

of  leaves.     Then  she  hangs  the  figure  through  a  hole  in  the 

floor.     The  effigy  is  then  put  in  a  basket  with  rice,  betel,  and 

an  egg,  which  last  is  given  to  the  serperit  to  bite  instead  of  the 

man.     Sometimes  a  rope  is  used  instead  of  an  image  of  a 

snake,  especially  in  cases  of  chronic  rheumatism.     The  rope 

is  passed  over  the  aching  joints,  while  the  priestess  beats  it 

with  a  bunch  of  leaves  and  says  that  she  is  "  unbinding  " 

the  malady.     Then  the  rope  is  let  down  through  an  opening 

in  the  floor.     Or  the  rope,  representing  the  sickness  is  placed 

in  the  model  of  a  boat  and  carried  out  of  the  village.     At  the 

dedication  of  a  new  house  the  priestess  comes  to  fix  the  souls 

of  the  inmates  in  their  bodies.     Each  person's  soul  is  in  a 

packet  of  life-giving  herbs  which  is  brought  from  the  old 

house  to  the  new.    When  the  rice  does  not  grow  well,  its 

soul  is  supposed  to  be  absent  and  the  priestess  goes  and  fetches 

it  back  from  the  spirits  in  the  sky.     The  soul  of  the  rice  is 

seen  in  the  form  of  some  grains  of  rice,  which  she  lets  fall 

from  a  bunch  of  dracaena  leaves.1    When  rain  is  wanted,  the 

priestess  professes  to  make  it  by  collecting  the  buffaloes  in 

the  spirit  land  and  driving  them  into  a  pool,  so  that  the  water 

of  the  pool  overflows  and  falls  in  the  form  of  rain.     But  this 

rain-making  ceremony  belongs  to  another  part  of  our  subject.2 

Among  the   Dyaks  inhabiting   the   Dusun   district   of 

Southern  Borneo,  in  case  of  a  serious  illness  sacrifice  is  offered. 

If  that  produces  no  alleviation,  a  medicine-man  (balian)  is 

called  in.     He  is  received  in  the  principal  room  of  the  house, 

where  the  patient  lies.     In  the  middle  of  the  room  a  sort  of 

altar  is  erected,  on  which  stands  a  vessel  containing  bras,  an 

egg,    and   dainties.    A  light   ladder,    composed   of  reeds, 

1  N.  Adriani  and  A.  C.  Kruijt,  op.         >  See  above,  pp.  68-93. 
tit.  i.  376-393. 


THE  PERILS  OF  THE  SOUL          213 

extends  from  the  altar  to  the  ridge  of  the  roof ;  it  is  to  facili- 
tate the  descent  of  the  spirits,  and  the  bras  and  dainties  are 
bait  to  allure  them.  The  guests  sit  along  the  walls  to  watch 
the  proceedings.  The  medicine-man  wears  heavy  metal 
bracelets  on  his  wrists.  He  throws  up  grains  of  rice,  variously 
coloured,  and  tries  by  all  kinds  of  endearing  names  to  draw 
the  spirits  to  himself,  while  he  sways  his  arms  about  so  that 
the  heavy  bracelets  rattle.  In  his  hands  he  holds  rirong 
leaves,  which  he  waves  to  and  fro.  He  chants  the  words  in 
sing-song  tones.  In  the  intervals  of  his  chant  the  drums  beat 
loudly.  Thus  attracted,  the  spirits  are  supposed  to  alight  on 
the  ridge  of  the  roof  and  descending  the  ladder  to  enter 
into  the  medicine-man,  who  becomes  possessed  (pasoa).  His 
dance-movements  grow  more  violent ;  he  runs  through  the 
room,  shrieking  and  clinking  bells,  and  at  last  rushes  out 
of  the  door  into  the  darkness,  for  the  time  is  night.  However, 
he  returns,  dances  about  mumbling  to  himself,  and  after  a 
good  deal  of  hocus-pocus,  in  which  he  is  assisted  by  a  woman 
helper,  he  kneels  beside  the  patient,  puts  his  mouth  to  the 
body  of  the  sufferer,  then  stands  up,  rushes  to  the  door,  and 
spits  out  the  sickness. 

Thus  with  the  help  of  the  spirits  he  has  got  rid  of  the 
illness.  The  next  thing  to  be  done  is  to  recall  the  absent 
soul  (amiroe)  of  the  sufferer.  As  the  expulsion  of  the  malady 
has  occupied  the  whole  night,  the  recalling  of  the  soul 
has  to  be  reserved  for  the  following  night.  After  the  medi- 
cine-man has  ascertained  what  spirit  has  carried  off  the 
patient's  soul,  he  prepares  a  puppet  and  offers  it  to  the  spirit 
instead  of  the  sick  person,  begging  him  to  release  the  captive 
soul.  But  the  method  of  procedure  varies  according  to  the 
nature  of  the  spirit  that  has  carried  off  the  soul.  If  it  is  a 
spirit  of  the  air  which  has  abstracted  the  soul,  the  medicine- 
man may  employ  the  small  model  of  a  boat  (sampan)  with  a 
little  wooden  bird  attached  to  the  top  of  the  mast.  The  bird 
typifies  the  flight  through  the  air,  and  the  soul  of  the  medi- 
cine-man goes  with  it  to  seek  and  find  the  lost  soul  of  the 
patient.  He  brings  the  soul  back  in  a  little  box,  and  drawing 
it  cautiously  out,  mixes  it  with  oil,  and  rubs  the  oil  on  the 
patient's  head.  The  lost  soul  returns  to  the  patient's  body 
through  the  fontanel. 


If  the  soul  of  the  patient  has  been  carried  off  by  a  forest 
spirit  a  board  is  employed  on  which  the  body  of  a  snake  is 
painted,  with  a  wooden  snake's  head  attached  to  it.     This 
board  is  hung  by  cords  from  the  roof  ;  the  medicine-man  seats 
himself  on  it  and  swings  to  and  fro.     He  is  supposed  to  be 
thus  searching  all  the  nooks  and  corners  of  the  wood  for  the 
lost  soul,  till  he  finds  it  and  restores  it  to  the  sufferer  in  the 
manner  already  described.     If  the  soul  has  been  carried  off 
by  the  spirit  of  a  dead  relation,  the  medicine-man  brings  it 
back  from  under  the  earth.     A  common  way  to  recover  a  lost 
soul  is  to  set  a  little  lamp  burning  before  the  door.     The  first 
insect  that  flies  into  it  is  regarded  as  the  lost  soul.     The 
medicine-man  rubs  it  in  pieces  with  oil,  and  smears  the  oil  on 
the  patient's  head.     If  a  water-spirit,  for  example  the  spirit 
of  a  fish,  is  thought  to  have  caused  the  sickness,  the  medi- 
cine-man makes  a  similar  fish  out  of  dough,  into  which  the 
guilty  water-spirit  creeps,  taking  with  him  the  soul  of  the 
sick  person.     By  a  dexterous  movement  the  medicine-man 
draws  the  soul  out  of  the  fish  and  restores  it  to  the  body  of 
the  sufferer.     Then  he  stabs  the  dough  image  of  the  fish 
with  a  spear  and  threatens  to  kill  the  water-spirit  if  he  will 
not  leave  the  man's  spirit  alone.     When  cholera  is  raging, 
a  rough  gateway,  consisting  of  uprights  with  a  cross-piece, 
is  erected  at  the  entrance  to  the  village,  and  rude  effigies  in 
human  form,  one  for  every  person  in  the  village  and  represent- 
ing him  or  her  as  a  substitute,  are  attached  to  it.     This 
structure  is  intended  to  arrest  the  spirit  of  cholera,  and  to 
induce  him  to  accept  the  puppets  instead  of  the  people.1 

Among  the  Kayans  of  Sarawak  in  Borneo  in  cases  of 
serious  illness  of  mysterious  origin  that  seem  to  threaten  to 
end  mortally,  the  theory  generally  adopted  is  that  the  patient's 
soul  has  left  his  body,  and  the  treatment  indicated  is  therefore 
an  attempt  to  persuade  the  soul  to  return.  For  this  purpose 
recourse  is  had  to  the  services  of  a  professional  soul-catcher 
or  medium  (Dayong).  Among  the  Kayans  the  professional 
soul-catcher  is  generally  a  woman  who  has  served  a  consider- 
able period  of  apprenticeship  with  some  older  member  of 
the  profession,  after  having  been  admonished  to  take  up  this 

1  P.  te  Wechel,  "  Erinnerungen  aus      (Borneo),"  in  Internationales  Archiv 
den  Ost-  und  West  Dusun-Landera      fur  Ethnologic,  xxii.  (1915)  pp.  44-53 

xix  THE  PERILS  OF  THE  SOUL  215 

calling  by  some  being  met  with  in  dreams.     If  on  being  called 
in  the  medium  decides  that  the  soul  (Blu<z)  of  the  patient  has 
left  his  body,  and  has  made  some  part  of  the  journey  towards 
the  abode  of  departed  souls,  his  task  is  to  fall  into  a  trance 
and  to  send  his  own  soul  to  overtake  that  of  his  patient  and 
persuade  it  to  return.     The  ceremony  is  usually  performed 
by  torch-light  in  the  presence  of  a  circle  of  interested  relatives 
and  friends,  the  patient  being  laid  in  the  long  public  gallery 
of  the  house.     The  medium  struts  to  and  fro  chanting  a 
traditional  form  of  words  well  known  to  the  people,  who  join 
in  the  chorus  at  the  close  of  each  phrase,  responding  with  the 
words,  "  Oh  powerful  medium."     The  chant  opens  with  a 
prayer  for  help,  addressed,  if  the  medium  is  a  man,  to  the 
high  god  (Laki  Tenangan),  or,  if  the  medium  is  a  woman,  to 
the  god's  wife  (Doh  Tenangan).     The  medium  may  or  may 
not  fall  and  lie  inert  upon  the  ground  in  the  course  of  his 
trance  ;   but  throughout  the  greater  part  of  the  ceremony  he 
continues  to  chant  with  closed  eyes,  describing  with  words 
and  mimic  gestures  the  doings  of  his  own  soul  as  it  follows 
after  and  eventually  overtakes  that  of  the  patient.     When 
this  point  is  reached  his  gestures  generally  express  the  diffi- 
culty and  severity  of  the  eiforts  required  to  induce  the  soul  to 
return  ;    and  the  anxious  relatives  then  usually  encourage 
him  by  bringing  out  gongs  or  other  articles  of  value,  and 
depositing  them  as  additions  to  the  medium's  fee.     Thus 
stimulated,   he  usually  succeeds  in  leading  back  the  soul 
towards  the  patient's  body.     One  feature  of  the  ceremony 
is  that  the  medium  takes  in  his  hand  a  sword,  and,  glancing 
at  the  polished  blade  with  a  startled  air,  seems  to  catch  in  it 
a  glimpse  of  the  wandering  soul.     The  next  step  is  to  restore 
the  soul  to  the  body.     The  medium  comes  out  of  his  trance 
with  the  air  of  one  who  is  suddenly  transported  from  distant 
scenes,  and  usually  exhibits  in  his  palm  some  small  living 
creature,  or  it  may  be  merely  a  grain  of  rice,  a  pebble,  or  bit 
of  wood,  in  which  the  captured  soul  is  supposed  to  be  con- 
tained.    This  he  places  on  the  crown  of  the  patient's  head, 
and  by  rubbing  causes  it  to  pass  into  the  head.     The  soul 
having  been  thus  restored  to  the  body,  it  is  needful  to  prevent 
it  from  escaping  again  ;   and  this  is  done  by  tying  a  strip  of 
palm-leaf  about  the  patient's  wrist.     A  fowl  is  then  killed, 


or,  in  very  severe  cases  of  sickness,  a  pig,  and  its  blood 
sprinkled  or  wiped  by  means  of  the  sword  or  knife  upon  this 
confining  bracelet.  In  mild  cases  the  fowl  may  be  waved 
over  the  head  of  the  patient  without  being  killed.  The 
medium  then  gives  directions  as  to  the  taboos  (malari)  to 
be  observed  by  the  patient,  especially  in  regard  to  articles  of 
diet,  and  retires,  leaving  his  fee  to  be  sent  after  him.  The 
catching  of  souls  is  practised  in  very  similar  fashion  among 
all  the  peoples  of  Borneo,  even  by  the  Punans,  though  the 
details  of  the  procedure  differ  from  tribe  to  tribe.1 

Among  the  Kachins  of  Burma  when  sickness  is  compli- 
cated by  delirium  or  unconsciousness,  friends  attribute  this 
state  to  the  absence  of  the  patient's  soul  from  his  body,  for 
they  believe  that  the  soul  may  depart,  above  all  in  sleep,  on 
an  outing  of  its  own,  or  may  be  carried  off  by  spirits.  If  the 
diviner  declares  that  the  soul  has  been  captured  and  detained 
by  spirits  (nats),  they  free  it  from  their  clutches  by  honouring 
them  with  a  festival.  When  they  suppose  that  the  soul  has 
gone  off  of  its  own  account,  the  medicine-man  (dumsa),  or 
in  his  default  the  persons  present,  seek  it  and  call  it  in  a  loud 
voice,  first  of  all  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  house  ;  then 
some  people  set  off  with  a  small  basket  of  provisions  to  scour 
the  paths  and  the  woods,  shouting,  "  O  Soul  of  such  a  one, 
do  not  remain  in  the  forest  where  the  mosquitoes  bite  and  the 
tigers  devour  ;  return  to  the  house  to  rejoin  your  friends,  to 
drink  this  spirit,  to  eat  these  eggs,  this  flesh,  and  so  forth." 
When  they  believe  they  have  discovered  it  they  lead  it  back 
to  the  house,  where  they  offer  it  a  small  feast.  If  the  patient 
continues  unconscious,  they  have  recourse  to  the  domestic 
spirits.  A  priest  gives  or  promises  them  eggs,  dried  fish, 
fowls,  and  so  forth,  and  sends  them  in  pursuit  of  the  wander- 
ing soul,  to  seek  and  find  it  in  whatever  quarter  of  earth  or 
heaven  they  may  discover  it.2 

Among  the  Palaungs  of  Burma,  "  if  the  wise  man  sees 
that  his  patient  cannot  live,  he  tells  the  mother  or  any  near 
relative  to  call  back  the  spirit  that  he  fears  is  departing  from 

1  C.  Hose  and  W.  McDougall,  The  et  remfcdes  chez  les  Katchins  (Bir- 

Pagan  Tribes  of  Borneo  (London,  manic),"  in  Anthropos,  x.-xi.  (1915- 

1912),  ii.  30,  1916)  p.  25, 

*  R.  P.  Ch.  Gilhodes,  "  Maladies 



the  sick  person.  If  there  is  a  woman  who  is  able  to  call,  men 
never  do  it.  This  calling  is  done  at  night  or  in  the  early 
hours  of  the  morning  while  it  is  still  dark.  White  paper 
flags,  white  flowers — if  it  is  possible  to  find  any — a  few  grains 
of  cooked  rice,  a  little  curry,  water  in  a  tiny  joint  of  bamboo, 
and  a  few  strands  of  white  thread  are  placed  in  a  bag  and 
carried  outside,  down  the  stairway  of  the  front  veranda,  and 
set  on  the  lowest  step.  The  mouth  of  the  bag  is  opened  wide, 
then,  standing  on  the  ground  beside  the  steps  the  mother 
calls  to  the  departing  spirit.  Repeating  the  name  of  her 
child  again  and  again,  in  accents  of  grief,  she  continues, 
*  O  my  darling  child  !  I  have  come  out  to  call  thee.  Do  not 
wander,  do  not  fly  from  us  into  the  dark  night.  The  spirits 
may  hurt  thee,  the  fireflies  may  burn  thee.  Come  back  to 
me,  O  my  child  !  Fall  into  this  water,  alight  on  this  food. 
Here  it  is  dark  and  cold,  in  our  home  the  fire  burns  brightly 
on  the  hearth.  I  do  not  set  thee  free,  I  will  not  let  thee  go. 
I  take  and  keep  thy  shadow.  I  take  and  hold  thy  spirit, 
Come  back,  come  back,  my  darling  child  !  Come  to  me 
quickly.'  She  repeats  this  invocation  several  times.  A 
sister,  wife,  or  friend  may  call,  but  only  one  person  calls  at 
a  time.  The  invocation  ends  with  a  long,  wailing  cry.  When 
people  in  the  neighbouring  houses  hear  that  cry  they  shut 
their  doors,  so  that  the  wandering  spirit  may  not  mistake  its 
own  home  and  enter  theirs. 

"When  the  calling  is  finished,  the  bag  is  closed  and  carried 
as  quickly  as  possible  into  the  entrance-room,  where  relatives 
and  friends  are  sitting  round  the  fire.  The  woman  who  has 
been  calling  says,  '  It  may  be  that  the  spirit  of  X  has  re- 
turned.1 The  others,  when  they  hear  this,  call  words  of 
encouragement  to  the  sick  person,  announcing  the  return  of 
his  spirit,  and  the  mother,  hurrying  into  the  inner  room,  says, 
1  We  have  called  back  thy  spirit,  it  is  here  in  thy  food.  Try 
to  eat  this  rice  and  curry,  drink  this  water,  smell  these  flowers, 
so  that  thy  spirit  may  return  into  thy  body/  The  patient 
tries  to  eat  and  drink,  and  the  white  threads  are  tied  round 

the  wrists."  x 

The  Lakhers  of  Assam  think  that  a  sore  throat  or  swell- 
ings on  the  throat  are  caused  by  a  snake  having  been  killed 

1  Mrs.  L.  Milne,  The  Home  of  Eastern  Clan,  pp.  287  sq. 


in  a  rat-trap  belonging  to  the  sick  man  or  by  one  of  his  family. 
If  it  is  known  that  a  snake  has  actually  been  caught  in  the 
sick  man's  rat-trap  or  killed  by  one  of  his  family,  a  sacrifice 
must  be  offered  at  the  place  where  the  snake  was  killed.    If 
it  is  only  suspected  that  the  killing  of  a  snake  has  been  the 
cause  of  the  disease,  the  sacrifice  is  offered  outside  the  village 
by  the  side  of  the  path.     Small  earthen  images  of  men, 
mithun,  cows,  lizards,  tortoises,   brass  basins,  gongs,  and 
pumtek  beads  are  prepared  and  placed  in  an  old  basket. 
An  image  of  a  snake  is  fashioned  out  of  an  image  of  bamboo 
by  cutting  the  surface  of  the  bamboo  to  represent  the  snake's 
markings.     The  sacrificer  ties  a  string  round  the  neck  of 
the  bamboo  snake  and  goes  out  to  the  place  of  sacrifice, 
holding  the  basket  of  clay  images  in  one  hand  and  dragging 
the  snake  along  behind  him.     The  idea  is  that  the  soul  of  the 
dead  snake  will  follow  the  bamboo  snake  as  it  is  dragged 
along  the  ground,  and  when  it  reaches  the  place  where  the 
sacrifice  is  held  will  see  all  the  clay  figures  and,  thinking  them 
real,  will  accept  them  instead  of  the  sick  man,  who  will  then 
recover.     A  dog  and  a  fowl  are  sacrificed  and  their  blood 
sprinkled  on  the  clay  images.     The  bodies  of  the  dog  and  the 
fowl  are  never  eaten  by  the  people,  but  left  on  the  spot  for 
the  snake,  who  would  think  himself  defrauded  if  portions  of 
the  victims  had  been  devoured  by  the  people.     Among  the 
Hawthais  the  ritual  in  such  a  case  is  still  more  elaborate. 
In  addition  to  the  ceremonies  and  sacrifice  already  described, 
a  small  rat-trap  is  placed  on  the  veranda  of  the  sick  man's 
house.     Near  it  are  placed  a  chopping-knife  (dao)  and  an 
old  earthen  pot.     Having  done  this,  the  sacrificer  goes  out- 
side the  village  and  lights  a  fire,  so  that  if  the  sick  man's  soul 
has  been  taken  some  distance  away  it  may  see  the  smoke 
and  return  to  its  home.     He  then  lays  down  the  clay  models 
and  other  articles  as  before,  kills  a  small  fowl,  which  he 
leaves  where  he  killed  it,  and  returns  to  the  village,  taking 
with   him   two   small   pebbles.     Before   entering   the   sick 
man's  house  he  stops  on  the  ladder  and  calls  out  to  the  sick 
man  "  Has  your  spirit  returned  to  you  ?  "     The  sick  man 
replies,   "  It  has  returned."     The  sacrificer  and  his  com- 
panions then  enter  the   house  and  shut  the   door.    The 
notion  is  that  while  they  are  inside  the  house  with  the  door 


shut  a  snake  may  come  and  be  crushed  in  the  rat-trap,  cut 
by  the  cutting-knife,  and  cooked  in  the  earthen  pot,  the  rat- 
trap,  chopping-knife  and  earthen  pot  having  been  made  in 
case  the  snake  should  refuse  the  sacrifices  and  try  to  re-enter 
the  house.  The  two  pebbles  are  placed  on  the  floor  of  the 
house,  and  another  fowl  is  sacrificed  on  them  to  prevent  the 
sick  man's  soul  from  going  outside  the  house  again.  The 
two  pebbles  represent  the  sick  man's  soul,  which  is  brought 
back  into  the  house  again,  and  to  which  a  fowl  is  sacrificed 
to  induce  it  to  remain.  The  meat  of  this  fowl  is  cooked  and 
eaten  by  the  sacrificer,  the  sick  man,  and  their  families. 
The  use  of  pebbles  to  represent  the  soul  of  a  sick  man  is 
common  among  the  Lakhers.1 

Among  the  Garos,  another  tribe  of  Assam,  in  a  case  of 
very  serious  illness,  recourse  is  had  to  a  certain  ceremony, 
called  denjaringa,)  which  is  performed  in  the  following  man- 
ner.    Near  the  stream  from  which  the  invalid  obtains  his 
supply  of  water  a  place  is  cleared  in  the  jungle,  and  on  this 
spot  a  sort  of  altar  (sambasia)  is  erected,  together  with  various 
bamboo  receptacles  for  offerings  of  rice,  cotton,  and  so  forth. 
The  officiating  priest  (fcamal)  sacrifices  a  fowl,  smears  its 
blood  as  usual  over  the  altar,  and  plasters  the  bamboos  with 
the  bird's  feathers.     He  then  ties  one  end  of  the  cotton  thread 
to  the  altar,  leads  it  to  the  sick  man's  house,  and  fastens  the 
other  end  in  the  room  in  which  the  patient  is  lying.     On  the 
string  a  sprig  of  kimbal  (Callicarpa  arborea)  leaves  is  hung. 
The  notion  is  that  if  the  sick  man's  spirit  leaves  his  body  it 
may  be  induced  to  return  by  the  prayers  of  his  friends,  and 
will  be  able  to  find  its  way  back  by  means  of  the  thread  as  a 
guide.     Outside  the  house  the  priest  takes  up  his  stand,  and 
during  the  whole  day  calls  upon  Tatara-Rabuga  (the  God 
of  the  Earth)  to  cure  the  sick  person.     A  horn  is  blown 
continuously  the  while  to  frighten  away  the  evil  spirit  which 
is  afflicting  the  sufferer.     When  night  falls,  if  there  has  been 
no  change  in  his  condition  the  priest  addresses  his  prayers 
to  the  spirit  Bidawe,  who  steals  the  souls  of  men,  and  con- 
tinues his  intercession  as  before.     This  having  been  kept  up 
until  a  late  hour,  the  cotton  string  is  examined  where  the 
leaves  were  hung,  and  if  it  shows  any  sign  of  having  sagged 

1  N.  E.  Parry,  The  Lakhers,  pp.  4$?  sqq. 


it  is  believed  that  the  sick  man's  soul  has  come  back,  and  that 
he  will  recover.  The  string  is  then  broken,  and  a  piece  of  it 
tied  round  the  neck  of  the  invalid,  drums  and  musical  instru- 
ments strike  up  in  his  room,  and  his  relations  greatly  rejoice.1 
Among  the  Lushais,  another  tribe  of  Assam,  it  sometimes 
happens  that  a  man  returning  from  a  shooting  expedition 
experiences  a  sudden  feeling  of  fear  near  the  water  supply, 
and  on  reaching  his  house  feels  ill  and  out  of  sorts.  He  then 
thinks  that  he  has  lost  one  of  his  souls  (Marau)  in  the  jungle. 
So  he  calls  in  a  wizard  (puithiam),  and  requests  him  to  call 
back  the  wanderer.  The  wizard  then  hangs  the  head  of  a 
hoe  on  to  the  shaft  of  a  spear  and  goes  down  to  the  water 
spring  chanting  a  charm  and  calling  on  the  soul  to  return. 
As  he  goes  the  iron  hoe  head  jingles  against  the  iron  butt  of 
the  spear  and  the  soul  hears  the  noise  and  listens.  The 
wizard  returns  to  the  house  still  chanting  and  calling,  and 
the  soul  follows  him,  but  should  the  wizard  laugh  or  look 
back  the  soul  is  afraid  and  flies  back  to  the  jungle.2 

In  Kan-sou,  a  province  of  China,  when  a  man  returns  on 
a  journey  on  which  he  has  had  an  accident  and  been  wounded, 
it  is  thought  that  he  has  left  his  soul  behind  him  on  the  spot. 
An  exorcist  is  then  employed  to  recover  the  lost  soul.  Taking 
a  pair  of  the  wounded  man's  trousers  with  him,  he  repairs  to 
the  spot  where  the  accident  took  place,  recalls  the  soul  of  the 
sufferer,  folds  it  up  in  the  trousers,  and  conveys  it  back  to 
the  wounded  man,  to  whom  he  restores  it  by  dressing  him  in 
the  garment.8 

In  Africa,  among  the  Mossi,  a  tribe  of  the  French  or 
Western  Sudan,  a  sacrifice  which  is  called  "  the  hidden 
sacrifice  "  is  offered  for  a  person  who  is  at  the  point  of  death. 
A  native  doctor  or  medicine-man,  being  called  in,  may 
declare  that  the  patient's  soul  has  passed  out  of  his  body, 
and  that  it  may  be  found  in  the  tangande,  or  sanctuary  of  the 
Guardian  Spirit  of  the  village,  who  in  the  shape  of  an 
animal  has  his  sanctuary  in  the  forest.  Without  the  know- 
ledge of  the  patient,  whence  comes  the  name  of  "  the  hidden 
sacrifice,1*  his  father  goes  to  the  sanctuary  in  the  forest, 

1  A.  Playfair,  The  Garos,  pp.  91  sq.         •  P.  J.  Dols,  "  La  Vie  chinoise  dans 
1  ] .  Shakespear,  The  Lushei-Kuki     la  Province  de  Kan-sou,1'  in  Anthro- 
Clans  (London,  1912),  p.  76.  pos9  x,-xi.  (1915-1916)  pp.  729  sg. 


accompanied  by  another  child  who  carries  the  victim  and  the 
water,  and  the  mother  of  the  patient,  who  carries  a  large 
calabash  half  filled  with  water,  in  which  she  places  a  smaller 
calabash  floating.     At  the  sanctuary  the  fowl  is  sacrificed, 
and  while  the  child  is  roasting  the  fowl  the  sacrificer  throws 
upon  the  earth  three  cowries  if  it  is  a  boy  who  is  ill,  four  if  it 
is  a  girl,  and  pours  out  a  little  water,  then  calls  the  patient 
by  his  name,  "  Bila,  come,  answer  me."     He  calls  a  boy 
three  times,  a  girl  four  times.     Then  he  takes  the  cowries 
and  a  lump  of  earth  mixed  with  water  and  the  blood  of  the 
victim.     His  wife  takes  up  the  small  calabash  which  floats 
in  the  water,  the  sacrificer  puts  the  bloody  mud  and  the 
cowries  in  the  large  calabash,   and  his  wife  quickly  puts 
the  small  calabash  inverted  over  everything  and  holds  it  at 
the  bottom  of  the  water.     The  same  performance  is  repeated 
three  or  four  times  according  to  the  sex  of  the  patient,  then 
the  woman  takes  the  road  home,  bearing  the  large  calabash 
in  one  hand,  and  always  holding  the  small  calabash  so  that 
it  does  not  come  to  the  surface,  while  the  sacrificer  follows 
her,  brandishing  his  sword  or  his  spear  behind  her  to  drive 
off  evil  spirits.     The  soul  of  the  sick  person  is  believed  to  be 
at  the  bottom  of  the  water,  among  the  bloody  mud  and  the 
cowries,  and  it  is  necessary  to  prevent  it  at  all  costs  from 
escaping  anew.     When  the  procession  reaches  the  patient's 
house  they  make  him  sit  down,  and  the  woman  pours  over 
his  head  the  water  from  the  large  calabash,  always  without 
raising  the  small  one.     If  the  patient,   surprised  by  this 
unexpected  splash  of  water,  gives  a  sudden  start,  he  is  saved, 
his  soul  has  returned  into  his  body  ;  but  if  he  does  not,  there 
is  nothing  to  do  but  to  abandon  him  to  his  unhappy  fate  ;  the 
Guardian  Spirit  of  the  village  will  not  give  up  his  soul.     The 
sacrificer  and  his  assistants  eat  of  the  flesh  of  the  victim,  but 
the  sick  man  himself  does  not  partake  of  it.1 

The  Eskimo  of  the  Mackenzie  River  in  North  America 
thinks  that  sickness  is  often  caused  by  the  absence  of  the 
patient's  soul,  which  has  been  stolen  from  him  by  a  shaman. 
When  that  happens  another  shaman  is  called  in  to  recover 
the  missing  soul,  and  restore  it  to  the  sufferer.  The  shaman 
who  has  been  invoked  to  act  as  physician  has  nothing  to  do 

1  P.  E.  Mangin,  "  Les  Mossi,"  in  Anthropos,  x.-xt.  (1915-191$)  P*  2O3- 




but  to  summon  his  familiar  spirits  and  send  them  out  over 
all  the  earth  in  search  of  the  place  where  the  soul  has  been 
forcibly  confined.  Eventually  one  of  the  spirits  will  find  the 
soul,  unless  indeed  it  has  been  placed  in  some  cavity  or  hole 
the  mouth  of  which  has  been  greased  with  seal  or  whale  oil, 
for  in  that  case  neither  will  the  soul  be  able  to  pass  out  of 
such  a  confinement  nor  will  the  spirit  which  is  searching  for 
the  soul  be  able  to  enter  in  order  to  find  it.  When  a  shaman 
steals  a  man's  soul  and  wants  to  be  sure  that  no  other  shaman 
shall  be  able  to  recover  it  for  him,  the  favourite  hiding-place 
of  the  stolen  soul  is  one  of  the  foramina  of  the  lower  maxillary 
bone  of  the  bow-head  whale.1 

We  have  seen  that  some  primitive  people  believe  a  person's 
soul  to  be  in  his  shadow  or  reflection,  so  that  any  injury  done 
to  the  shadow  or  reflection  is  felt  by  him  as  an  injury  to  him- 
self.2   Among  the  Baganda  of  Central  Africa  "  no  man  liked 
another  to  tread  upon  his  shadow,  or  to  have  his  shadow 
speared ;  and  children  were  warned  not  to  allow  the  fire  to 
cast  their  shadow  upon  the  wall  of  the  house,  lest  they  should 
die  from  having  seen  themselves  as  a  shadow.     At  meals  no 
one  sat  so  as  to  cast  his  shadow  over  the  food,  for  this  was  con- 
sidered dangerous  to  all  who  were  at  the  meal."8     Similarly 
among  the  Banyoro,  another  tribe  of  Uganda,  "  a  mart's 
shadow  was  supposed  to  be  a  part  of  himself.     He  there- 
fore took  care  it  should  not  be  speared,  trodden  upon  or  in 
any  wise  injured,  lest  he  too  should  suffer  in  like  manner."4 
It  is  a  Hausa  belief  that  a  person's  soul  is  in  his  shadow, 
and  that  it  may  be  caught  in  the  following  manner.     "  If 
a  wizard  sees  a  person  whom  he  wishes  to  injure  coming 
along,  he  will  wait  near  a  stone  or  a  wall,  or  close  to  any 
projection  upon  which  the  shadow  of  the  enemy  must  fall 
as  he  passes.     When  this  has  happened,  the  wizard  at  once 
claps  his  hand  upon  the  shadow,  and  picks  out  the  soul, 
keeping  it  in  his  fist  until  he  has  reached  his  house,  when  he 
quickly  places  a  vessel  over  his  hand  and  transfers  the  soul 
to  it — as  one  does  a  rare  beetle.11 5 

1  V.  Stefansson,  My  Life  with  the         *  J.  Roscoe,  The  Baganda,  p.  23. 
Eskimos  (London,  1913),  pp.  393  Sq.  *  J.  Roscoe,  The  Northern  Bantu, 

a  See  above,  pp.  202  sq.     Cf.  Taboo      p.  97. 

and  the  Perils  of  the  Soul,  pp.  77          «  A.  J.  N.  Tremearnc,  The  Ban  of 

the  Bori,  p.  133. 

xix  THE  PERILS  OF  THE  SOUL  223 

Among  many  tribes  of  Southern  Nigeria  it  is  believed 
that  if  the  shadow  is  hurt  the  body  also  will  be  damaged. 
The  shadow  is  often  believed  to  be  a  representation  of  one 
of  a  man's  souls.     Among  the  Yoruba  a  person  can  be  injured 
or  killed  by  throwing  a  "  medicine  "  made  of  "  alligator  " 
peppers  upon  his  shadow  or  by  slashing  at  it  with  a  knife. 
If  the  shadow  hand  is  touched,  the  medicine  is  thought  to 
enter  into  the  man's  own  hand,  make  a  big  sore  and  cause 
blood-poisoning,  which  will  bring  about  his   death   unless 
counteracting  medicines  are  obtained.     The  Ijaw  are  much 
afraid  of  being   injured  through  their  shadow  ;  they  are 
greatly  vexed  if  another  sets  his  foot  upon  their  shadow, 
while  if  a  dagger  is  thrown  at  it  it  is  thought  that  the  man 
will  suffer  great  harm.      All  the   Ibo,   save  those  in  the 
Abakiliki  and  Obolo  Divisions,  believe  that  a  man  can  be 
hurt  by  "  medicine  "  put  upon  his  shadow.     Some  in  the 
west  think  that  it  harms,  and  might  even  kill,  a  man  if 
another   treads   on   his   shadow.     Most    Semi-Bantu   have 
similar  beliefs.     Many  Ibibio  think  that  the  soul  is  affected 
by  physical  or  magical  action  on  the  shadow.     Men  some- 
times tread  on  that  of  their  enemies  or  throw  a  dagger  at 
it,  while   "  doctors  "   place  medicines   on  it.     The    Bantu 
think   that   "  doctors  "   can  make   a  medicine  which  will 
destroy  a  man's  shadow,  as  a  consequence  of  which  he  will 
die.1    Similarly  the  Kai  of  Northern  New  Guinea  identify 
the  shadow  with  the  soul,  and  a  man  is  therefore  much  con- 
cerned if  anyone  treads  on  his  shadow.2    Among  the  Boloki 
or  Bangala  of  the  Upper  Congo  "  the  shadow  of  a  person,  his 
reflection  in  water,  or  in  a  looking-glass,  and  more  recently 
a  photograph,  is  called  by  a  word  (elilingf)  that  is  often  used 
interchangeably    with    the    word    for   soul    (pttmo).     They 
repeatedly  informed  me  that c  a  dead  person  casts  no  shadow,' 
and  that  therefore  he  has  no  soul,  hence  to  say  that  So-and- 
So  has  no  shadow  is,  with  them,  the  equivalent  to  saying 
that  he  has  no  soul,  i.e.  that  he  is  dead.  .  .  *  If  for  some 
reason  a  man  does  not  see  his  shadow  reflected  when  he 
looks  into  some  water,  he  thinks  someone  has  taken  his 
spirit  away,  and  that  he  will  soon  die.     Even  if  at  midday 

1  P.    A.    Talbot,    The   Peoples   of     Life  in  Southern  Nigeria,  p.  119. 
Southern    Nigeria^    ii.    183.     Cf.    id.          a  R.  Neuhauss,  op.  cit.  in.  in. 


he  does  not  see  his  shadow,  because  he  is  standing  on  it — 
the  sun  being  absolutely  vertical  at  noon  so  near  the  Equator 
— he  will  go  to  a  witch-doctor,  who  will  make  medicine  that 
he  may  recover  his  shadow  or  soul."1 

But  in  the  opinion  of  some  primitive  peoples,  not  merely 
the  shadow  or  reflection  is  a  source  of  danger  to  the  person 
who  casts  it     The  likeness  of  another  person  to  him  may  be 
equally  dangerous,  because  he  thinks  that  the  other  must 
have  abstracted  some  portion  of  his  own  soul.     This  fear  is 
particularly  entertained  with  regard  to  children  who  resemble 
their  parents.     Thus  according  to  the  Toradyas  of  Central 
Celebes  the  commonest  death  is  due  to  the  absence  of  the 
soul.     And  they  say  that  the  reason  why  so  many  children 
die  is  because  they  resemble  their  father  or  mother.     They 
say  that  such  a  child  has  taken  part  of  the  soul-stuff  of  one 
of  his  parents.     If  the  greatest  part  of  the  soul-stuff  remains 
with  the  parent,  the  child  soon  dies.     But  if  the  child  has 
the  greatest  part,  then  his  father  or  his  mother  dies.2     Simi- 
larly "  the  exact  likeness  of  a  male  child  to  his  father,  that 
is,  the  possession  of  two  hosts  by  the  same  soul,  causes  alarm 
to  a  Malay  ;  one  of  the  boy's  ears  must  be  pierced,  otherwise 
either  the  father  or  the  son  is  likely  to  die.     Curiously,  the 
resemblance  of  a  girl  to  her  father  or  of  a  boy  or  girl  to  the 
mother  is  of  no  moment." 3 

Elsewhere  we  have  seen  that  primitive  peoples  have  often 
been  in  the  habit  of  laying  the  foundations  of  buildings  upon 
the  bodies  of  human  victims  in  order  that  the  souls  of  the 
victims  may  guard  or  strengthen  the  foundations.4  To  the 
examples  there  cited  I  may  here  add  a  few  more.  When 
King  Mindon  laid  the  foundations  of  the  new  capital, 
Mandalay,  in  1857,  "he  acted  on  the  advice  of  his  chief 
astrologer,  and  a  pregnant  woman  was  slain  one  night  in: 
order  that  she  might  become  the  guardian  spirit  of  his 
palace.  Throughout  the  whole  of  his  reign  offerings  were 
openly  made  by  the  king  to  the  spirit  of  the  murdered 
woman,  which  was  supposed  to  be  incarnated  in  the  body 
of  a  snake.  This  is  a  strange  and  strong  proof  of  animistic 

1  J.  H.  Weeks,  Among  Congo  *  R.  O.  Winstedt,  Shaman,  Saiva, 

Cannibals,  pp.  262  sq*  and  Sufi,  p.  14. 

*  N.  Adriani  and  A.  C,  Kruijt,  op.  «  Taboo  and  the  Perils  of  the  Soul, 

fit.  ii.  56,  84.  pp.  90 


worship  on  the  part  of  one  who  was  most  unquestionably  a 
most  religious  Buddhist,  and  the  most  enlightened  of  all 
the  monarchs  of  the  Alaung  Paya  dynasty.  ...  At  all  the 
gates  in  the  city  walls,  and  at  the  four  corners,  male  victims 
were  also  done  to  death  —  being  buried  alive,  it  is  said,  along 
with  large  jars  of  oil  —  according  to  the  ceremony  known  as 
Sade,  for  the  purpose  of  providing  guardian  spirits  to  keep 
watch  and  ward  over  all  the  lines  of  approach  to  the  city. 
Small  white-washed  pagoda-like  tumuli  outside  the  gates 
and  the  corners  of  the  outer  walls  still  form  the  abodes  of 
these  guardian  spirits  of  the  city  (Myozade)"  1  "  In  old 
times  it  was  the  custom  in  the  Shan  States,  as  in  Burma,  to 
bury  alive  a  man  or  woman  under  the  palace  or  the  gates 
of  a  new  city,  so  that  the  spirits  of  the  dead  in  guarding  the 
place  from  human  enemies  should  also  keep  evil  spirits, 
that  bring  sickness,  at  a  distance.'*2 

The  Toradyas  of  Central  Celebes  used  to  bury  slaves 
alive  under  the  foundations  of  the  houses  which  they  were 
building.  We  read  of  one  case  in  which  a  man  visiting  a  dis- 
trict found  the  people  engaged  in  building  a  temple.  They 
had  just  dug  a  deep  hole  to  receive  the  central  post,  and  they 
invited  him  to  go  down  into  the  hole  and  dig  it  deeper.  He 
consented  and  went  down  into  the  hole,  but  no  sooner  had 
he  done  so  than  they  struck  him  down,  and  lowered  the  main 
post  upon  him,  crushing  him  under  its  weight.3 

About  the  middle  of  the  nineteenth  century  an  English- 
man, John  Jackson,  saw  men  buried  alive  with  the  posts  of 
a  new  house  of  the  king  of  Fiji.4  In  Mala,  one  of  the  Solomon 
Islands,  it  is  said  that  formerly  when  a  chiefs  house  was 
building,  the  first  of  the  three  central  posts  used  to  be  lowered 
on  a  human  victim  buried  alive  beneath  it.  The  practice  is 
mentioned  in  many  folklore  stories  current  among  the 
natives.6  A  similar  practice  seems  to  have  been  observed 
by  the  Maoris  of  New  Zealand  at  building  a  chiefs  house, 
temple,  or  other  important  edifice.  On  this  subject  Mr. 

1  J.  Nisbet,  Burma  under  British  *  J.  E.  '&*&&&>  Journal  of  a  Cruise 
Rule  (London,  1901),  pp.  195  sq.  among  the   Islands   of  the    Western 

2  Mrs.    L.    Milne,    The   Shans  at  Pacific  (London,  1853),  p.  464- 
Home  (London,  1910),  pp.  178  sq.  *  W.  G,  Ivens,  Melanesians  of  the 

3  N.  Adriani  and  A.  C.  Kruijt,  op.  South-East  Solomon   Islands   (Lon- 
cit.  i.  203  sy.  don,  1927),  p»  32. 

226  THE  PERILS  OF  THE  SOUL  CHAP,  xix 

Tregear,  a  good  authority  on  the  people,  writes  as  follows : 
"  A  more  terrible  ceremony  accompanied  the  opening  of 
very  grand  houses,  such  as  a  temple  or  council-hall.  A 
member  of  the  tribe  was  killed  and  his  heart  was  cut  out, 
cooked,  and  eaten  by  the  officiating  priest,  with  many 
incantations  uttered  the  while.  Among  the  East  Coast 
tribes  the  body  was  buried  inside  the  house  at  the  base  of  the 
end-slab  (poupou-tuarongd)  next  the  back  of  the  building, 
on  the  left  side  looking  from  the  entrance.  Among  the 
Arawa,  Urewera,  and  many  other  tribes  the  body  was 
buried  at  the  foot  of  the  central  pillar,  the  pou-tokomanawa. 
The  body  of  the  victim  was  called  a  f  stone '  (whatu)  for  he 
was  the  foundation-stone  of  the  new  edifice.  In  some  cases, 
after  a  lapse  of  time,  exhumation  took  place  and  the  bones 
would  be  taken  to  a  shrine  or  altar  (tuahit)  to  be  deposited 
as  a  spiritual  influence  (manea)  for  the  owner  of  the  house. 
Not  only  was  a  near  relative  needed  as  a  sacrifice  of  this 
kind,  but  even  a  favourite  child  of  the  ruling  chief  might  be 
selected.  Taraia,  to  make  sacred  his  new  house  at  Herepu, 
near  Karamu,  Hawke's  Bay,  slew  his  youngest  boy  and 
offered  him  as  a  whatu.  Thus  goes  the  lullaby-song  (priori)  : 

Then  Taraia  built  his  house, 
Placing  his  youngest  child 
As  a  whatu  for  the  rearmost  pillar 
Of  his  house  Te  Raro-akiaki. 

Instances  have  been  known  of  the  sacrifice  of  slaves  as  whatu, 
but  ordinary  men  were  not  of  sufficient  consequence  for 
such  a  purpose.  If,  however,  a  distinguished  captive  were 
available  the  victim  might  suffice,  as  Te  Whakororo,  when 
captured  by  the  Ati-Hapai  tribe,  was  used  as  a  whatu  for 
their  great  temple,  Te  Uro  o  Manono.  His  bones,  exhumed 
and  hung  up  within  the  building,  guided  by  their  rattling 
his  son  Whakatau  to  the  place  to  wreak  vengeance  for  the 

In  Africa,  when  a  king  of  Agbor  in  Southern  Nigeria 
built  a  shrine  for  his  ancestral  spirits,  he  caused  a  man  and  a 
woman  to  be  killed  and  buried  under  the  foundations  of  the 

1  E.    Tregear,    The    Maori   Race          a  P.    A.    Talbot,    The   Peoples  of 
(Wangammi,  New  Zealand,  1904),  pp.       Southern  Nigeria,  iii.  863. 



SAVAGES  are  commonly  very  shy  of  entering  a  strange  land, 
because  they  fear  the  spirits  of  the  unknown  country  and  the 
magic  of  the  inhabitants.  Accordingly  before  crossing  the 
boundary  they  often  observe  ceremonies  for  the  purpose  of 
disenchanting  the  land,  and  assuring  for  themselves  a  safe 
passage  through  it.  In  such  a  case  the  Maoris  of  New  Zealand 
used  to  perform  a  ceremony  called  Uruuru-whenua.  "  This 
is  a  ceremony  performed  by  a  person  who,  for  the  first  time, 
ascends  a  mountain,  crosses  a  lake,  or  enters  a  district  never 
before  traversed  by  him.  The  term  implies  '  to  enter  or 
become  of  the  land.'  It  is  an  offering  to  the  spirits  of  the 
strange  land.  It  is  generally  performed  at  a  tree  or  rock 
situated  on  the  trail  by  which  travellers  pass  into  the  district. 
Every  person  on  passing  such  places  for  the  first  time  would 
pluck  a  twig  or  piece  of  fern  and  cast  it  at  the  base  of  the  tree 
or  stone,  at  the  same  time  repeating  a  short  invocation  to  the 
spirits  of  the  land.  After  passing  on  such  a  person  would 
never  look  back  towards  the  tree  ;  it  would  be  an  evil  omen 
were  he  to  do  so."  1 

Savages  commonly  fear  to  be  injured  through  the  relics 
of  their  food,  because  if  these  fall  into  the  hands  of  an  enemy 
he  might  cast  a  spell  upon  them  which  would  react  with 
serious,  or  even  fatal  effect,  on  the  original  eater.  For 
example  in  the  Kakadu  tribe  of  Northern  Australia  "  another 
form  of  practising  evil  magic  amongst  the  Kakadu  consists  in 

1  Elsdon  Best,  "  Notes  on  Some  Australasian  Association  for  the 
Customs  and  Superstitions  of  the  Advancement  of  Science  (1895),  pp. 
Maori,"  in  the  Sixth  Report  of  the  765  sq. 


228  TABOOED  ACTS  CHAP,  xx 

a  man  who  desires  to  injure  an  enemy  securing  some  fragment 
of  food  that  the  latter  has  been  eating.  First  of  all  he  ties  it 
up  in  paper  bark  and  takes  it  away,  unknown  to  anyone  else, 
to  his  own  camp  where  he  pounds  it  up  and  sings  over  it, 
thereby  projecting  evil  magic  into  it.  Then  he  ties  it  up  again 
and  takes  it  to  an  ant-hill,  at  the  base  of  which  he  makes  a 
small  hole,  pushes  the  food  inside,  and  closes  the  hole  so  that 
it  cannot  be  seen.  This  form  of  magic  is  supposed  to  be  very 
effective  and  to  act  rapidly.  Within  three  days  the  man 
becomes  very  hot,  continually  cries  out  for  water  and  soon 
dies."  * 

Among  the  natives  near  Cape  King  William  in  Northern 
New  Guinea  a  sorcerer  who  desires  to  injure  an  enemy  obtains 
some  relics  of  the  man's  food,  ties  them  up  in  a  packet,  and 
hangs  it  over  a  fire.  As  the  relics  dry  up,  so  the  strength  of 
his  enemy  wastes  away,  and  he  finally  dies.  But  sometimes 
the  magical  treatment  lasts  longer.  The  sorcerer  retires  with 
the  packet  into  the  solitude  of  the  forest.  He  there  under  an 
overhanging  rock  kindles  a  fire,  and  puts  the  packet  in  a  hole 
below  the  fire.  After  one  or  two  days  he  takes  the  packet  out 
and  strikes  it  with  a  stone.  This  is  thought  to  give  the  final 
blow  to  his  enemy;  but  the  sorcerer  remains  in  seclusion 
until  the  news  of  his  victim's  death  is  brought  to  him.  But  if 
his  intended  victim  obstinately  persists  in  living  it  often  ends 
by  the  sorcerer  hanging  himself.  2 

1  Baldwin  Spencer,  Native  Tribes      tralia,  p.  260. 
of  the  Northern    Territory  of  Aus-          a  R.  Neuhauss,  op.  cit.  iii.  248  sqt 



WE  have  seen  that  kings  and  chiefs  in  primitive  society  are 
subject  to  many  taboos.1  To  the  examples  already  given  one 
or  two  more  may  here  be  added.  The  king  of  the  Banyoro 
in  Uganda  might  not  touch  his  food  with  his  hands,  hence  he 
had  to  be  fed  by  another.  The  ceremony  of  feeding  him  is 
thus  described  by  Canon  Roscoe  :  "  When  the  cook  took  the 
food  to  the  king  he  smeared  his  head,  face,  arms,  and  chest 
with  white  clay  after  the  manner  of  the  milk-men  who  were 
going  to  milk  the  sacred  cows.  He  had  two  iron  prongs  with 
sockets  to  fit  on  his  finger  and  thumb,  these  prongs  being  used 
to  lift  the  meat  and  put  it  in  the  king's  mouth,  as  the  king  was 
not  permitted  to  tduch  his  food  with  his  hands.  The  cook 
had  to  be  careful  not  to  touch  the  king's  teeth  with  the  iron 
prongs,  as  such  an  offence  was  punishable  with  death."  2 

Some  interesting  details  as  to  the  taboos  observed  with 
reference  to  chiefs  in  Samoa  are  furnished  by  a  missionary,  as 
follows  :  "  Much  order  and,  in  case  of  chiefs,  some  ceremony 
was  formally  observed  during  meals,  in  their  heathen  state. 
Chiefs  of  rank,  called  Alii pa 'za,  or  sacred  chiefs,  always  par- 
took of  their  meals  separately,  since  whatever  they  touched 
was  supposed  to  partake  of  their  sacredness,  so  that  all  food 
left  by  them  at  the  close  of  a  meal  was  taken  to  the  bush  and 
thrown  away,  as  it  was  believed  that  if  a  person  not  of  this 
sacred  class  ate  of  it,  his  stomach  would  immediately  swell 
from  disease,  and  death  speedily  ensue  !  "  3  The  sacredness 

1  See  above,  pp.  194  sqq.  8  J.  B.  Stair,  Old  Samoa  (London, 

8  J.  Roscoe,  The  Northern  Bantu,      1897),  p,  121 
p.  13. 



attributed  to  many  chiefs  of  high  rank  gave  rise  to  observances 
which  were  irksome  to  their  families  and  dependants,  since 
whatever  they  came  in  contact  with  required  to  undergo  the 
ceremony  lulu'u,  or  sprinkling  with  a  particular  kind  of 
coconut-water  both  to  remove  the  sanctity  supposed  to  be 
communicated  to  the  article  or  place  that  had  touched  the 
chief,  and  also  to  counteract  the  danger  of  speedy  death 
which  was  believed  to  be  imminent  to  any  person  who  might 
touch  the  sacred  chief,  or  anything  that  he  had  touched  ;  so 
great  was  the  mantle  of  sanctity  thrown  round  these  chiefs, 
although  unconnected  with  the  priesthood.  Thus  the  spot 
where  such  a  chief  had  sat  or  slept  was  sprinkled  with  water 
immediately  he  had  left  it,  as  were  also  the  persons  who  had 
sat  on  either  side  of  him  when  he  received  company,  as  well  as 
all  the  attendants  who  had  waited  upon  him.  This  remark- 
able custom  was  also  observed  on  other  occasions.  It  was 
always  used  on  the  occasion  of  deposing  a  chief,  and  depriving 
him  of  his  Ao  or  titles,  in  which  case  the  ceremony  was  either 
performed  by  some  of  those  who  had  either  conferred  the 
titles  or  had  the  power  to  do  so.  In  the  case  of  O  le  Tama- 
fainga,  the  usurper  who  was  killed  in  A'ana  in  1829,  his  body 
was  first  sprinkled  with  coconut-water,  and  his  title  of  0  le 
Tuia'ana  recalled  from  him,  before  he  was  hewn  in  pieces. 
The  ceremony  consisted  of  sprinkling  the  body  with  coconut- 
water,  and  the  officiating  chief  or  Tulafale  saying,  '  Give  us 
back  our  Ao,'  by  which  means  the  title  was  recalled,  and  the 
sacredness  attaching  to  it  was  dispelled.  It  was  also  used 
overpersons  newly  tattooed,  and  upon  those  who  contaminated 
themselves  by  contact  with  a  dead  body.  In  each  of  these 
cases  the  ceremony  was  carefully  observed,  and  reverently 
attended  to,  as  very  dire  consequences  were  considered  certain 
to  follow  its  omission."  * 

Mourners,  like  chiefs,  are  subject  to  many  taboos,  in 
consequence  of  their  contact  with,  or  relation  to,  the  dead. 
Thus  in  Annam  mourners  are  not  allowed  to  marry  or  to  have 
any  sexual  relations  whatever.  The  prohibition  formerly 
extended  to  the  whole  period  of  mourning,  but  it  is  now  re- 

J.  B.  Stair,  op,  dt.  pp.  128  sq.    As      Brown,  Melanesians  and  Polynesians, 
to  the  Samoan  purifications  by  sprink-      p.  231. 
ling  -with  coconut-water,  compare  G. 


stricted  to  the  three  days  after  the  death,  during  which  it  is 
absolute,  and  during  these  days  they  are  further  forbidden  to 
chew  betel,  to  drink  alcohol,  and  to  eat  flesh.1 

Women,  again,  are  the  subjects  or  objects  of  many  taboos 
at  menstruation  and  childbirth.  For  example,  among  the  Ila- 
speaking  people  of  Northern  Rhodesia  the  doctor  or  medicine- 
man warns  a  hunter  against  allowing  a  menstruous  woman  to 
enter  the  hut  in  which  he  keeps  his  gun,  for  she  would  inevit- 
ably render  it  useless.  And  when  traders  are  about  to  start 
on  a  journey  he  warns  each  of  them  to  beware  especially  of 
menstruous  women,  bidding  him  not  to  allow  one  of  them  to 
touch  his  food  on  the  journey.  To  do  this  would  be  to  destroy 
his  luck.2 

In  primitive  society  such  women  are  commonly  supposed 
to  be  in  a  dangerous  condition  which  might  infect  anyone  who 
came  into  contact  with  them.  Hence  at  such  times  they  are 
isolated  and  subject  to  many  taboos.  Among  the  Birhors  of  the 
Chota  Nagpur  in  India  a  parturient  woman,  except  in  a  few 
clans,  has  a  new  doorway  made  for  the  room  in  which  she  is 
to  be  confined,  and  for  a  certain  number  of  days  after  delivery, 
during  which  her  touch  is  taboo  to  others,  she  must  use  this 
new  door  only  ;  but  the  number  of  days  varies  in  different 
clans.  Thus  in  the  Ludamba  clan  the  woman  is  allowed  to 
use  the  old  door  after  seven  days  from  the  day  of  delivery,  in 
most  other  cases  after  twenty-one  days,  and  in  the  Maghaia 
Hembrom  clan  after  five  weeks  if  the  new-born  baby  is  a 
female  and  after  six  weeks  if  it  is  a  male.  In  most  clans, 
again,  but  not  in  all,  long  wooden  fences  are  put  up  on  both 
sides  of  the  pathway  leading  to  this  new  door,  so  that  the 
woman's  dangerous  spirit  may  not  fall  on  other  people.3  In 
the  Kawan  clan  of  the  Birhors  when  a  woman  is  about  to  be 
confined,  "  her  husband  makes  for  her  a  separate  shed  with 
leaves  and  branches  in  which  she  is  left  alone.  As  soon  as  a 
baby  is  born  to  her,  a  tiger,  it  is  said,  invariably  enters  the 
shed,  cleanses  the  limbs  of  the  baby  by  licking  them,  and 
opens  a  back-door  to  the  shed  for  the  woman  to  go  out  and 
come  in  during  her  days  of  ceremonial  taboo."  * 

1  P.    Giran,    Magie    et    Religion  Rhodesia^  i.  262  sq. 

Annamites*  p.  4A5-  a  o  r^  T>       T>t    » •  z. 

*  E.  W.  s£i&  Ind  A.  M.  Dale,  The  S' C  Roy' The  £trko">  pP"  ' I4  **< 

Ila-speaking    Peoples     of    Northern  4  S.  C.  Roy,  op.  cit.  p.  1 10.    - 


A  pregnant  Hindoo  woman  "  must  not  wear  clothes  over 
which  a  bird  has  flown.     She  must  not  wear  a  knot  in  her 
dress  (sari)  where  it  is  fastened  round  her  waist.     In  order  to 
avoid  the  contact  of  evil  spirits  she  must  not  walk  or  sit  in  the 
open  courtyard  of  her  house,  and  must  wear  a  thin  reed  five 
inches  long  in  her  hair.  .  .  .  When  the  hour  of  birth  draws 
near,  as  a  mother  is  ceremonially  unclean  for  three  weeks  if 
she  has  given  birth  to  a  son,  and  if  to  a  daughter  for  a  month, 
her  touch  is  defiling,  and  she  cannot  remain  in  the  house.    A 
shed  is  therefore  provided  for  her  temporary  home.     In  the 
houses  of  the  poor  a  lumber-room  is  generally  used  ;  whilst  in 
the  large  mansions  a  separate  building  is  kept  for  this  pur- 
pose.    These  places  are  destitute  of  furniture,  a  little  straw 
being  spread  for  the  woman  to  lie  upon.     Here  she  must 
remain  until  the  day  of  her  purification.  .  .  .  The  skull  of  a 
cow  smeared  with  red  paint  is  reared  against  the  wall  to  drive 
away  evil  spirits.     An  image  of  Sasthi,  the  goddess  who  pre- 
sides over  married  women  and  children,  made  of  cow-dung, 
is  placed  in  a  conspicuous  place  and  specially  honoured. 
During  all  this  time  neither  husband  nor  father,  sister  nor 
mother,  may  touch  her,  lest  they  be  defiled,  the  poor  woman 
being  left  entirely  to  the  tender  mercies  of  a  barber's  wife, 
whose  reign   is   supreme  over  her   and   her   child.     When 
European  ladies  try  to  induce  the  friends  to  show  a  little  more 
consideration  to  the  invalid,  their  entreaties  are  met  by  the 
assurance  that  any  departure  from  the  custom  of  ages  would 
anger  Sasthi.11  *     In  Annam  it  is  believed  that  the  effusion  of 
blood  at  child-birth  is  productive  of  effluvia  which  are  ex- 
tremely powerful  and  almost  always  dangerous.     That  is  why 
in  Cochin-China,  when  the  moment  of  birth  approaches,  the 
woman  retires  to  a  house  specially  prepared  for  the  purpose. 
Under  her  bed  a  continual  fire  is  kept  smouldering.     This 
house  she  inhabits  for  thirty  days  after  the  birth,  after  which 
they  abandon  the  house  or  burn  all  the  things  which  the 
woman  had  handled.2 

Among  the  Kai  of  Northern  New  Guinea  as  soon  as  a 
pregnant  woman  feels  the  first  premonitary  pangs  of  child- 
birth she  must  leave  the  village  and  go  into  the  forest,  near 

1  W.  J.  Wilkins,  Modern  Hinduism         *  P,  Giran,  op.  at.  p.  109, 
(Calcutta,  N.D.),  pp.  5 


some  water,  there  to  be  delivered.  She  must  observe  the 
same  custom  at  her  monthly  periods.  They  build  for  women 
at  such  times  a  small  hut  outside  the  village.  The  people 
believe  that  if  the  pigs  were  to  eat  of  the  blood  of  women,  or 
their  afterbirth  or  their  menstrual  flow,  they  would  imitate 
the  women  by  going  into  the  fields  and  grubbing  up  the  fruits 
of  the  earth,  just  as  the  women  dig  them  up.  If  the  pigs  con- 
trive to  break  into  the  fields  in  numbers,  they  blame  the 
women  for  not  observing  the  rule  of  seclusion  during  their 
periods,  or  at  childbirth.1  Again,  among  the  Yabim,  another 
tribe  of  Northern  New  Guinea,  the  husband  of  a  pregnant 
woman  may  not  go  fishing  for  bonito,  for  if  he  did  the  fish 
would  avoid  the  boat  and  refuse  to  be  caught,  and  the 
morning  after  a  woman  has  been  delivered  of  a  child  the 
people  may  not  go  out  into  the  fields,  for  they  think  that  if 
they  did  so  the  crop  of  taro  would  fail.  Evidently  they  fear 
to  convey  the  infection  of  childbed  to  the  fields  by  visiting' 
them  too  soon  after  the  birth.2  Among  the  Bukaua,  another 
tribe  of  Northern  New  Guinea,  a  pregnant  woman  may  not 
walk  on  the  sea-shore  or  near  the  mouth  of  a  river  because 
it  is  believed  that  her  blood  would  kill  all  the  fish.  And  her 
husband  may  not  go  fishing  with  other  men,  though  he  is 
not  forbidden  to  try  his  luck  by  himself.3 

In  Efate,  one  of  the  New  Hebrides,  after  childbirth,  "  the 
woman  is  isolated  and  regarded  as  unclean  until  the  thirtieth 
day,  on  which  day,  for  the  first  time,  the  mother  and  child 
go  out  of  the  house  and  are  both  purified  with  sea  water. 
According  to  the  Efatese  notions  the  sea  is  the  great  purifying 
medium.  .  .  .  The  name  in  Efatese  for  uncleanness  is  nimam> 
and  that  of  childbirth  is  called  nimam  nafiselan.  The  men 
are  afraid  of  it  and  keep  away  from  the  house  in  which  the 
birth  has  taken  place.  They  say  that  men  by  going  to  or 
near  the  house  would  contract  the  nimam  or  uncleanness, 
and  that  in  consequence  '  their  eyes  would  be  darkened 
(that  is,  they  would  be  weak)  in  war/  and  that  if,  having 
contracted  it,  they  went  to  their  plantations,  the  yams  would 
rot.  This  applies  to  the  day  of  birth.  A  sacred  man 
(natamole  tabu)  who  inadvertently  goes  near  such  a  house, 

1  R.  Neuhauss,  op.  cit.  iii.  91.  *  R.  Neuhauss,  op.  tit,  iii.  425  sq. 

2  R.  Neuhauss,  op,  fit,  iii.  294. 


immediately  purifies  himself  by  a  religious  ceremony,  as 
the  uncleanness  would  be  fatal  to  his  sacredness  or  holiness 
(natabuen)."  x 

Among  the  Maoris  when  a  male  child  is  born  to  a  chief 
all  his  tribe  rejoice.  But  the  mother  is  separated  from  the 
inhabitants  of  the  settlement,  to  prevent  her  coming  in  con- 
tact with  persons  engaged  in  cultivating  the  sweet  potato 
(kumara),  lest  anything  belonging  to  the  mother  should  be 
accidentally  touched  by  them,  and  lest  the  sweet  potato 
should  be  affected  by  her  state  of  tapu  (taboo)  ;  for  the  sacred- 
ness  of  any  nursing  mother  (rehu-wahine}  is  greatly  feared.2 

In  Africa  among  the  Bangala  of  the  Upper  Congo, 
"  a  woman  is  unclean  for  a  month  after  confinement,  and  then 
she  washes  and  is  accounted  clean,  although  she  will  have 
washed  every  day  of  the  month.  During  this  time  no  man 
will  go  near  her,  nor  will  a  man  eat  anything  she  has  cooked, 
but  children  who  have  not  arrived  at  the  age  of  puberty  will 
visit  the  house  freely."  8  Among  the  Kikuyu,  a  tribe  of 
Kenya,  when  a  woman  has  recently  been  confined  and  the 
discharges  are  still  unfinished,  it  has  sometimes  happened 
that  a  cow  has  come  along  and  licked  the  stool  upon  which 
she  was  sitting.  In  such  a  case  she  must  immediately  tell 
her  husband  :  if  not,  he  will  become  defiled  (thahu}  and  die, 
and  all  the  other  people  in  the  village  will  become  defiled 
in  a  lesser  degree  and  will  fall  ill.  The  cow  must  be  killed 
without  delay  by  the  elders  and  is  eaten  by  them  ;  no  person 
of  the  village  may  eat  of  the  meat  unless  he  has  been  cir- 
cumcised Masai  fashion.  Three  elders  in  Kikuyu  are  said 
to  have  died  from  this  defilement  (thahu}  within  recent  years.4 

In  primitive  society  again,  many  taboos  are  observed 
by  warriors  in  time  of  war.  Thus  for  example  in  Southern 
Nigeria  "  special  taboos  had  to  be  observed  before,  during, 
and  after  fighting  ;  failure,  and  perhaps  death,  would,  it  was 

^l  Rev.  D.  Macdonald,  "  Efate,"  in  Congo    River,"    in  Journal   of  the 

fourth   Report  of  the   Australasian  Royal  Anthropological  Institute,  ad. 

Association  for  the  Advancement  of  (1910)  p.  417. 
Science,  1892,  p.  721. 

8  E.  Shortland,  Maori  Religion  and         4  C.  W.  Hobley,  "  Kikuyu  Customs 

Mythology  (London,  1882),  p.  40.  and  Beliefs,"  in  Journal  of  the  Royal 

J.  H.  Weeks,  "  Anthropological  Anthropological  Institute,  xl.   (1910) 

Notes  on  the  Bangala  of  the  Upper  p.  434. 


thought,  follow  any  infraction  of  them.  Almost  always 
it  was  forbidden  to  have  intercourse  with  a  woman,  to  eat 
women's  food — soft  things  such  as  yams,  coco-yams,  fish, 
etc.,  or  for  an  adult  female  to  cook  for  them.  If  a  wife  had 
committed  adultery  and  had  not  informed  her  husband — or 
if  she  committed  adultery  while  her  husband  was  away 
fighting — it  was  commonly  believed  that  he  would  die. 
No  warrior  would,  if  possible,  touch  another,  or  his  '  medi- 
cines '  might  be  rendered  useless."  *  Among  the  tribes  of 
Southern  Nigeria,  the  Mbo  Abaw,  who  are  Bantu,  "  gave 
the  enemy  notice  of  war  and  fixed  a  time  and  place  for  the 
fighting,  otherwise  they  would  have  regarded  themselves 
as  '  no  better  than  thieves.'  From  the  day  war  was  decided 
on,  which  was  generally  at  least  a  month  beforehand,  all  the 
warriors  were  kept  in  certain  rooms  in  the  king's  com- 
pound, which  were  guarded  by  sentinels  with  orders  to  allow 
no  one  to  go  in  or  out.  During  the  whole  of  this  period  they 
were  not  permitted  to  hold  intercourse  with  women  nor  to 
eat  anything  which  these  had  cooked ;  they  might  only 
partake  of  foods  sanctioned  by  the  *  doctors.'  "  a 

Among  the  Embu,  a  primitive  tribe  inhabiting  the 
southern  slopes  of  Mount  Elgon  in  Kenya,  before  they  en- 
gage in  war  "  a  small  hut  is  constructed  in  the  bush  under 
the  supervision  of  a  doctor,  who  erects  in  the  middle  of  it  a 
bundle  of  various  branches  tied  up  with  charms.  The  hut 
is  a  temporary  structure,  and  only  serves  as  a  sort  of  central 
shrine.  In  the  bush  round  this  the  warriors,  sometimes  as 
many  as  a  hundred,  go  and  camp  for  perhaps  a  month. 
There  they  live  quite  separate  from  the  rest  of  the  population. 
They  strip  oif  all  clothes,  but  wear  their  ornaments  and  use 
a  waist-band  of  wild  sodom  apples.  Each  day  for  some 
hours  they  perform  a  very  monotonous  dance  in  two  lines 
on  a  sort  of  follow-the-leader  principle.  The  step  is  quick 
and  very  short.  The  performers  carry  weapons  and  the 
leaders  carry  horns,  which  they  blow  at  intervals.  The  per- 
formers are  largely  restricted  in  their  behaviour,  and  are 
supposed  to  consume  large  quantities  of  meat,  if  available. 

1  P.   A.    Talbot,    The   Peoples   of      Southern  Nigeria,  p.  232. 
Southern  Nigeria,  iii.  823  sg.,  835,          *  P.    A.    Talbot,    The  Peoples  of 
,  850,  852,  853  sq. ;    id.,  Life  in       Southern  Nigeria,  iii.  854  sqq. 


They  must  drink  no  milk  or  beer  and  must  abstain  from 
sexual  intercourse, "  x  With  regard  to  the  Wa-Giriama,  a 
Bantu  tribe  of  Kenya,  we  are  told  that  "  during  war  time 
men  do  not  cohabit  with  their  wives,  as  they  say  it  brings  bad 
luck  to  them.  They  believe  that  if  they  do  cohabit  with 
their  wives  during  war  time  they  will  be  unable  to  kill  any 
of  their  enemies,  and  that  should  they  themselves  receive  a 
trifling  wound  it  will  prove  fatal."  2 

Among  the  Ila-speaking  tribes  of  Northern  Rhodesia 
in  time  of  war  "  before  the  actual  fighting  certain  ceremonial 
observances  took  place,  the  principal  being  a  solemn  sacrifice 
to  the  muzhimo  or  spirit  of  the  district,  with  prayers  for 
victory    and    a   safe   return.     All    sexual    intercourse   was 
avoided,  and  the  women  were  instructed  to  remain  chaste 
while  their  husbands  were  away  fighting,  lest  harm  should 
befall  them.     They  were  also  forbidden  to  throw  anything 
at  one  another  for  fear  lest  their  relations  should  be  speared, 
or  to  imitate  any  kind  of  blow."  3    With  regard  to  these 
same  tribes  we  are  told  that  "  there  are  a  number  of  particular 
occasions  when  sexual  intercourse  is  prohibited  to  men  and 
women.  .  .  .  Above  all,  men  going  to  war  must  absolutely 
have  nothing  to  do  with  women  from  the  time  that  prepara- 
tions are  begun  and  the  doctors  have  started  to  doctor  the 
army.     Breach  of  this  would  mean  certain  death  in  the  fight ; 
and  likely  enough  bring  disaster  to  the  army."  4 

Similarly  with  regard  to  the  Kiwai  Papuans  of  British 
New  Guinea  we  read  that  "  before  going  to  war  a  man  must 
not  cohabit  with  his  wife,  which  under  the  circumstances  is 
a  bad  thing,  and  may  cause  his  death.  During  the  days 
preceding  a  fighting  expedition  the  warriors  eat  in  the  men's 
house,  and  at  least  in  the  notions  of  certain  people  must 
avoid  having  their  food  cooked  by  women  who  are  used  to 
sexual  intercourse.  The  young  warriors  abstain  from  play- 
ing with  the  girls  and  do  not  even  speak  to  them."  5  So 

1  G.  St.  J.  Orde  Browne,  The  Van-  cit.  i.  176. 

ishing  Tribes  of  Kenya,  p.  176  *  Ibid.  ii.  44. 

8  W.  E.  H.  Barrett,  "  Notes  on  the  5  G.   Landtman,  "  The   Magic  of 

Customs    and    Beliefs    of   the    Wa-  the  Kiwai  Papuans  in  Warfare,"  in 

Giriama,    British    East    Africa,"    in  Journal  of  the  Royal  Anthropological 

Journal  of  the  Royal  Anthropological  Institute,    xlvi.    (1916)    p.    323.     Cf. 

Institute,  xli.  (1911)  p,  22.  W.     N.    Beavert     Unexplored    New 

1  E.  W.  Smith  and  A.  M.  Dale,  op.  Guinea,  p.  173. 


again  the  Melanesians  of  New  Britain  "  were  very  particular 
in  preserving  chastity  during  or  before  a  fight,  and  they 
believed  that  if  a  man  slept  with  his  wife  he  would  be  killed 
or  wounded."  x 

Warriors  who  have  slain  a  foe  in  battle  have  commonly 
to  submit  to  a  number  of  special  taboos,  followed  by  purifica- 
tion, for  the  purpose  of  guarding  them  against  the  vengeful 
ghosts  of  the  slain.  To  the  examples  of  these  customs  which 
I  have  given  elsewhere,2  I  may  add  the  following.  Thus 
among  the  Banyankole,  a  tribe  of  Uganda,  "  the  warrior 
who  had  killed  a  man  was  treated  like  a  murderer  or  a 
hunter  who  had  killed  a  lion,  leopard,  antelope,  or  hyena 
(because  these  animals  belonged  to  the  gods)  ;  he  was  not 
allowed  to  sleep  or  eat  with  others  until  he  had  been  purified, 
for  the  ghost  of  the  man  was  upon  him."  8  Among  the 
Elgeyo,  a  tribe  of  Kenya,  "  the  slayer  of  a  foeman  did  not  re- 
turn immediately  to  his  hut,  but  went  to  a  cave  or  overhang- 
ing rock  for  ten  days.  During  this  period  he  daily  from  4 
A.M.  till  7  P.M.  chanted  his  prowess  as  a  warrior.  His  food 
was  brought  to  him  by  male  friends.  No  females  or  young 
children  were  allowed  to  approach  him.  Old  men  who  in 
their  time  had  killed  enemies  cut  on  his  right  forearm  eight 
parallel  rings,  called  caulli.  Each  ring  was  formed  by  mak- 
ing a  series  of  small  parallel  cuts  in  line  round  the  arm. 
The  caulli  were  cut  on  the  left  arm  of  a  left-handed  man. 
In  cases  where,  say,  four  spears  pierced  a  foeman  before  he 
died,  the  thrower  of  the  first  spear  was  entitled  to  have  five 
rings,  the  second  to  four,  the  third  to  three,  and  the  fourth 
to  two.  A  few  survivors  of  the  c  Kimnyegeo '  and  the 
1  Kablalach '  age-clans  still  proudly  display  their  caulli.  At 
the  end  of  the  ten  days  a  white  goat  was  slaughtered  by  the  men 
who  had  operated  on  his  arm.  They  took  the  undigested  con- 
tents of  its  stomach  and  rubbed  this  on  the  warrior's  face  and 
body*  Until  this  was  done,  the  young  man  was  not  allowed 
to  wash,  as  it  was  feared  that  if  he  did  so  the  stream  or  spring 
at  which  he  washed  would  dry  up.  After  this  ceremony  he 
was  permitted  to  mix  again  with  his  fellows."  4 

*  G.  Brown,  Melanesians  and  Poly-         s  J.   Roscoe,    The   Banyankole,   p 
nesians,  p,  154.  161. 

3  Taboo  and  the  Perils  'of  the  Soul,         *  J.  A.  Massam,  The  Cliff  Dwellers 
pp.  165-190.  of  Kenya,  pp.  39  sg. 



The  Lango,  a  Nilotic  tribe  of  Uganda,  stand  in  great 
fear  of  the  ghost  (tipo}  of  a  man  who  has  been  slain  in  battle. 
They  think  that  it  afflicts  the  slayer  with  attacks  of  giddiness 
and  frenzy,  during  which  he  may  do  himself  or  the  by- 
standers mortal  mischief.     For  this  reason,  and  also  lest  in 
the  heat  of  the  conflict  a  leprous  or  cancerous  man  has  been 
speared,  the  slayers  sacrifice  goats  and  sheep,  which  may  be 
of  any  colour,  unless  the  slayer  feels  the  influence  of  the  ghost 
already  beginning  to  affect  him,  in  which  case  he  must  kill 
a  black  goat.     The  undigested  matter  from  the  intestines 
of  the  slaughtered  goats  is  smeared  over  the  bodies  of  the 
warriors  to  guard  them  against  the  ghosts  of  the  slain.     The 
ghost  has  further  to  be  appeased  by  the  cicatrization  of  the 
killers,  each  slayer  cutting  rows  of  cicatrices  on  his  shoulder 
and  upper  arm,  the  number  varying  according  to  his  ability 
to  stand  the  pain  up  to  three  and  a  half  rows.     And  finally 
each  slayer  has  to  shave  his  head  after  the  fashion  known 
as  atira"  1    Among  the  Wawanga,  a  tribe  of  Kenya,  "  a 
man  returning  from  a  raid,  on  which  he  has  killed  one  of  the 
enemy,  may  not  enter  his  hut  until  he  has  taken  cow-dung 
and  rubbed  it  on  the  cheeks  of  the  women  and  children  of 
the  village  and  purified  himself  by  the  sacrifice  of  a  goat,  a 
strip  of  skin  from  the  forehead  of  which  he  wears  round  the 
right  wrist  during  the  following  four  days."  2 

Among  the  Kipsikis  or  Lumbwa,  another  tribe  of  Kenya, 
when  a  warrior  returns  from  a  raid  on  which  he  has  killed 
a  man  he  "  washes  his  blood-stained  spear,  allows  the  water 
and  blood  to  drip  upon  a  handful  of  grass  which  he  licks  ; 
there  is  no  stated  intention  of  partaking  of  the  virility  of  the 
slain.  On  returning  home  the  warrior  arrives  screaming  the 
name  of  the  tribe  of  which  he  has  killed  his  man  ;  the  villagers 
come  out  to  meet  him  and  throw  grass  upon  him  ;  he  goes  far 
down  the  stream  to  bathe  ceremonially,  and  plasters  red 
earth  (ngarief)  on  the  right  of  his  face,  white  earth  (ewaref) 
on  the  left  of  his  face  ;  he  draws  red  parallel  lines  criss-cross 
upon  his  right  arm,  right  leg,  and  on  the  right  of  his  body, 

1  J.  H.  Driberg,  The  Lango  (Lon-  British  East  Africa,*'  in  Journal  of 
don,  1923),  pp.  no  .s1^.  the    Royal    Anthropological    Society  % 

2  K.  R.  Dundas,  "  The  Wawanga  xliii.  (1913)  p.  47., 
and  other  Tribes  of  the  Elgon  District, 


and  similarly  in  white  upon  the  left.  The  shield  and  spear 
are  both  half-plastered  with  red  and  white  earth.  He  may 
not  wash  or  oil  his  body  now  for  a  month,  and  if  this  is  his 
first  killing  he  must  slaughter  a  white  goat,  on  a  second  kill- 
ing the  colour  is  of  no  moment.  The  skin  of  this  animal  is 
given  to  a  woman  past  child-birth  to  wear.  A  ring  made 
from  this  skin  is  worn  on  the  big  finger  of  the  right  hand, 
with  a  strip  extending  to  the  wrist,  where  it  is  wound  round 
as  a  bracelet.  This  form  of  ornament  is  also  worn  after 
other  ceremonial  slaughter  of  animals.  Women  and  children 
may  not  eat  of  the  leavings  of  his  food,  and  women  shun  his 
presence  until  the  month  of  seclusion  is  over.  This  month 
being  over,  the  killer  seeks  a  strange  woman,  especially  one 
who  is  thought  barren,  and  has  connection  with  her,  the 
husband,  should  he  know  (and  if  there  is  a  child  he  must 
know)  shows  no  resentment ;  the  next  child  born  to  the 
woman,  if  a  male,  is  called  Kipkoli  (kolit — a  white  goat) — the 
name  is  fairly  common."  * 

Among  the  Boloki  or  Bangala  of  the  Upper  Congo  '*  a 
homicide  is  not  afraid  of  the  spirit  of  the  man  he  has  killed 
when  the  slain  man  belongs  to  any  of  the  neighbouring  towns, 
as  disembodied  spirits  travel  in  a  very  limited  area  only ;  but 
when  he  kills  a  man  belonging  to  his  own  town  he  is  filled 
with  fear  lest  the  spirit  shall  do  him  some  harm.  There  are 
no  special  rites  that  he  can  observe  to  free  himself  from  these 
fears,  but  he  mourns  for  the  slain  man  as  though  he  were  a 
member  of  his  own  family.  He  neglects  his  personal  appear- 
ance, shaves  his  head,  fasts  for  a  certain  period,  and  laments 
with  much  weeping."  2 

With  regard  to  the  practice  of  head-hunting  among  the 
Ibibio  of  Southern  Nigeria  we  are  told  that  should  a  slayer 
find  that  the  ghost  of  the  slain  is  very  strong  and  is  haunting 
him  to  his  hurt,  he  will  sacrifice  a  dog  to  the  ghost  of  his  foe. 
If  this  sacrifice  proves  unavailing  he  catches  a  male  lizard, 
and  with  this  carefully  caged  goes  to  a  place  where  cross- 
roads meet.  There  by  the  wayside  he  makes  a  tiny  gallows, 
and,  taking  out  the  lizard  from  its  cage,  passes  it  three  times 

*  J.  Barton,  "  Notes  on  the  Kipsikis      logical  Institute,  liii.  (1923)  P.  47- 
or  Lumbwa  Tribe  of  Kenya  Colony,"          *  J.  H.  Weeks,  Among  Congo  Cann\  - 
in  Journal  of  the  Royal  Anthropo-      falf,  p.  268. 


round  his  head,  crying,  "  Here  I  give  you  a  man  instead  of 
me.  Take  him  and  leave  me  free."  After  this  he  places  a 
thin  noose  round  the  neck  of  the  lizard  and  hangs  it  upon  the 
miniature  gallows.1 

Among  the  Tumbuka,  a  tribe  of  Nyasaland,  when  a  vic- 
torious army  returns  from  battle  they  sit  down  by  a  stream 
about  a  mile  from  the  village  and  the  men  who  have  slain 
foes  in  battle  smear  their  bodies  and  arms  with  white  clay. 
They  rest  beside  the  water  one  nrght  and  next  morning  the 
army  returns  to  the  royal  village.  The  warriors  who  have 
slain  others  sleep  that  night  in  the  open  kraal  with  the  cattle, 
and  do  not  venture  near  their  own  homes.  In  the  early 
morning  they  run  again  to  the  stream,  and  wash  off  the  white 
clay  with  which  they  have  bedaubed  themselves.  The  witch- 
doctor is  there  to  give  them  some  magic  medicine  to  drink, 
and  to  smear  their  bodies  with  a  fresh  coating  of  clay.  For 
six  days  the  process  is  repeated,  until  their  purification 
is  completed.  Their  trappings  and  war  dress s  are  hung 
up  on  a  tree,  the  head  is  shaved,  and  being  pronounced 
clean,  they  are  at  length  allowed  to  return  to  their  own 
homes. 2 

Among  the  Ila-speaking  peoples  of  Northern  Rhodesia 
when  an  army  returned  from  battle  a  medicine-man  or  doctor 
went  round  among  the  slayers  and  put  a  little  medicine  on 
each  man's  tongue  in  order  that  the  ghost  of  the  slain  might 
not  trouble  him.  "  Another  cleansing  process  is  called 
kupu-pulula.  The  warrior  was  bathed  in  the  fumes  of  certain 
medicines  burnt  in  a  sherd  :  the  ashes  were  afterwards  placed 
in  a  koodoo  horn  and  planted  at  the  threshold  of  his  hut  to 
drive  off  the  ghost  of  the  person  he  had  killed."  3  Further, 
among  these  tribes,  every  person  who  has  slain  a  man, 
whether  in  battle  or  otherwise,  must  be  careful  to  cut  a  short 
stick,  split  it  partly  down  the  middle,  stretch  the  two  sides 
apart,  and  jump  through  the  cleft  three  or  four  times  in  order 
to  avert  the  evil  consequences.4  Doubtless  this  precaution  is 
taken  in  order  to  give  a  slip  to  the  ghost  of  the  slain. 

1  P.  A.  Talbot,  Life  in  Southern  »  E.  W.  Smith  and  A.  M.  Dale, 

Nigeria,  p.  245.  The  Ila-speaking  Peoples  of  Northern 

a  0.  Fraser,  Winning  a  Primitive  Rhodesia,  i.  179. 

People,  pp.  39  sq.  *  Ibid.  p.  415. 


The  Thonga  or  Ronga  of  South-Eastern  Africa  believe 
that  the  slayers  of  men  in  battle  are  exposed  to  the  very 
dangerous  influence  of  the  ghosts  (nuru)  of  the  men  they  have 
slain.  The  ghost  of  the  slain  haunts  the  slayer  and  may  drive 
him  into  insanity  :  his  eyes  swell,  protrude,  and  become  in- 
flamed. He  will  go  out  of  his  mind,  be  attacked  by  giddi- 
ness, and  the  thirst  for  blood  may  lead  him  to  fall  upon 
members  of  his  own  family  and  stab  them  with  his  assegai. 
To  prevent  such  misfortunes  a  special  treatment  is  required 
to  free  the  slayers  from  the  ghosts  of  their  victims.  The 
slayers  must  remain  for  some  days  at  the  capital.  They  are 
taboo.  They  put  on  old  clothes,  eat  with  special  spoons 
because  their  hands  are  "  hot  "  and  from  special  plates  and 
broken  pots.  They  are  forbidden  to  drink  water.  Their 
food  must  be  cold.  The  chief  kills  oxen  for  them ;  but  if 
the  meat  were  hot  it  would  make  them  swell  internally 
"  because  they  are  hot  themselves,  they  are  defiled."  If  they 
ate  hot  food,  the  defilement  would  enter  into  them.  "  They 
are  black.  This  black  must  be  removed."  During  all  this 
time  sexual  relations  are  absolutly  forbidden  to  them.  They 
must  not  go  home  to  their  wives.  In  former  times  the  Ba- 
Ronga  used  to  tattoo  them  with  special  marks  from  one  eye- 
brow to  the  other.  Dreadful  medicines  were  introduced  into 
the  incisions  and  there  remained  pimples  which  gave  them 
the  appearance  of  a  buffalo  when  it  frowns.  After  some 
days  a  medicine-man  comes  to  purify  them,  "  to  remove  their 
black."  The  treatment  seems  to  vary.  According  to  one 
account  seeds  of  all  kinds,  together  with  drugs  and  the  un- 
digested contents  of  the  stomach  of  a  goat,  are  put  into  a 
broken  pot  and  roasted  on  a  fire.  The  slayers  inhale  the 
smoke  which  emanates  from  the  pot.  They  put  their  hands 
into  the  mixture  and  rub  their  limbs  with  it,  especially  the 
joints.  After  this  ceremony  the  slayers  say :  "  Phee  1  phee !  " 
viz.  "  Go  down,  sink."  This  means  :  "  May  you  go  deep 
into  the  earth,  you,  my  enemy,  and  not  come  back  to  torment 
me."  The  last  part  of  the  treatment  consists  in  rubbing  the 
biceps,  the  legs,  and  the  whole  body  with  milk  which  had  been 
mixed  with  the  embers  in  the  pot.  The  medicinal  embers  are 
carefully  collected  and  reduced  to  a  powder;  this  will  be 
put  into  small  bags  of  skin  called  tintebe  which  the  slayer 


will  wear  round  his  neck.     They  contain  the  medicine  of  the 
slayers  of  men.1 

The  taboos  observed  by  man-slayers  among  the  Zulus 
have  been  described  as  follows  :  "  Every  Zulu  man  who  might, 
whether  in  war  or  otherwise,  have  killed  another  man,  was, 
before  being  able  to  return  and  mix  with  his  family,  required 
to  go  through  a  certain  elaborate  ceremony  of  purification  or 
fortification  called  ukuqunga.     This,  in  the  case  of  an  army, 
was  regularly  arranged  for  by  the  king.     After  having  killed 
his  adversary,  the  victor  (now  called  an  inxeleha^  his  assegai 
also  being  called  by  the  same  name),  would  immediately  do 
off  his  ibetshu  and  put  on  that  of  the  man  he  had  killed.     He 
would  then  go  to  the  river  and  wash  the  whole  body,  after- 
wards   doctoring    himself   with    certain    prescribed    herbs. 
Affixing  a  sprig  of  ipinganhlola  in  his  hair,  he  could  now 
direct  his  course  home,  but  must  keep  a  look-out  for  any 
strange  female  he  may  come  across,  as,  before  he  can  take  up 
his  residence  in  the  kraal,  he  must  first  have  sexual  intercourse 
with  some  female  or  other  of  a  tribe  not  his  own,  otherwise 
even  at  home  he  must  continue  to  live  out  on  the  veldt. 
Upon  entering  his  kraal,  he  must  ncinda  a  large  number  of 
medicines,  or  fighting  charms,  called  izembe  elimnyama — 
this  before  partaking  of  any  kind  of  food.     He  then  ncinda's 
milk  mixed  with  other  medicines  or  cleansing  charms,  called 
izembe  elimhlope.     This  done,  he  is  clean,  and  may  again 
freely  enter  society  and  partake  of  amasi ;   but  until  he  dies 
he  must  never  again  eat  amasi  made  from  the  milk  of  a  cow 
whose  calf  has  not  yet  shown  the  horns  ;   and  every  year  he 
must  refrain  from  eating  the  ihlobo  or  first-fruits  of  the  new 
season,  i.e.  the  pumpkins,  calabashes,  and  the  like,  nor  par- 
take of  any  beer  made  from  the  first  corn  of  the  new  year, 
unless,  in  all  cases,  he  shall  have  first  fortified  himself  by 
certain  medicinal  charms."  2 

Among  the  Lakhers,  a  tribe  of  head-hunters  in  Assam,  as 
soon  as  the  warriors  have  returned  from  a  successful  raid,  all 
those  who  have  been  lucky  enough  to  take  an  enemy's  head 
must  perform  the  la  ceremony  over  it.  The  object  of  this 
ceremony  is  two-fold  :  first  to  render  the  spirit  of  the  slain, 

1  H,  A.  Junod,  The  Life  of  a  South         a  W.  Wanger,  in  Anthropost  x.-xi. 
African  Tribe,  i.  479  sq.  (1915-1916)  p.  272. 


which  is  called  saw,  harmless  to  his  slayer,  and  secondly  to 
ensure  that  the  spirit  of  the  slain  shall  be  the  slave  of  his 
slayer  in  the  next  world.  It  is  believed  that  unless  the  la 
ceremony  is  performed  over  the  heads  of  men  killed  in  war, 
their  spirits  will  render  their  slayers  blind,  lame,  or  paralysed, 
and  that  if  by  any  lucky  chance  a  man  who  has  omitted  to 
perform  the  la  ceremony  escapes  these  evils,  they  will  surely 
fall  upon  his  children  or  his  grandchildren.  Again,  unless 
the  la  ceremony  is  performed,  the  spirits  of  those  slain  in  war 
go  to  a  special  abode  called  Sawvawkhi^\&rt  dwell  the  spirits 
of  all  those  who  have  suffered  violent  deaths,  so  it  is  only  by 
performing  the  la  ceremony  that  a  man  can  ensure  that  the 
spirit  of  his  dead  enemy  shall  accompany  him  to  Athikhi,  the 
abode  of  the  dead,  as  his  slave.  The  ceremonies  performed 
at  la  vary  somewhat.  Among  the  Sabeu  and  Hawthai  heads 
are  never  taken  into  the  village,  and  so  each  man  who  has 
taken  a  head  erects  a  bamboo  pole  in  front  of  his  house,  and 
on  it  places  an  imitation  head  made  out  of  a  gourd.  He  then 
sacrifices  a  pig,  the  flesh  being  used  for  a  feast  for  his  family 
and  friends,  and  dances  round  this  imitation  head.  In  the 
other  villages  the  head  of  the  man  slain  is  taken  to  the  place 
where  the  la  ceremony  is  being  performed,  and  the  man  and 
his  friends  dance  the  Sawlakia  round  and  round  the  head. 
When  the  real  head  is  used  at  the  ceremony,  rice  and  meat  are 
placed  in  its  mouth,  in  order  that  the  dead  man's  spirit  may 
not  wander  about  on  the  night  of  the  ceremony,  the  idea 
being  that  it  will  eat  its  fill  of  the  food  and  remain  near 
the  head.  Three  dances  are  performed  at  the  la  ceremony 
— the  Sawlakia,  the  Chochhipa,  and  the  Dawlakia.  The 
meaning  of  Sawlakia  is  "  the  dance  of  the  Spirits  of  the  slain  " 
and  Lakhers  believe  that  the  Spirits  of  the  slain  willy  nilly 
have  to  dance  round  with  their  slayers.  On  the  night  of  the 
la  ceremony  and  all  the  next  day  dancing,  feasting,  and  singing 
continue.  The  day  after  this  the  whole  village  is  on  holiday 
(aofc),  no  work  is  done  and  no  one  leaves  the  village.  The 
next  day  each  man  who  has  taken  a  head  kills  a  pig,  washes 
his  hands  in  its  blood,  and  then  goes  and  bathes  and  thoroughly 
cleanses  himself  of  all  blood-stains,  so  that  the  spirits  of  the 
dead  shall  not  be  able  to  recognize  their  slayers.  While  the 
la  ceremony  is  in  progress  the  man  performing  it  may  not 


sleep  with  his  wife.  It  is  not  till  he  has  cleansed  himself  that 
he  can  resume  conjugal  relations.  The  belief  is  that  during 
the  la  ceremony  the  spirit  of  the  deceased  is  hovering  round, 
and  if  it  saw  the  man  who  had  slain  him  sleeping  with  his 
wife,  it  would  say,  "  Ah,  you  prefer  women  to  me/1  and  would 
inform  all  the  spirits,  and  the  man  who  had  done  what  was 
forbidden  would  not  be  allowed  to  take  any  more  heads.1 

Among  the  primitive  natives  of  the  Andaman  Islands  if  a 
man  kills  another  in  a  fight  between  two  villages,  or  in  a 
private  quarrel,  he  leaves  his  village  and  goes  to  live  by  him- 
self in  the  jungle,  where  he  must  stay  for  some  weeks,  or 
even  months.     His  wife,  and  one  or  two  of  his  friends  may 
live  with  him  or  visit  him  and  attend  to  his  wants.     For  some 
weeks  the  homicide  must  observe  a  rigorous  taboo.     He  may 
not  handle  a  bow  or  arrow.     He  may  not  feed  himself  or 
touch  any  food  with  his  hands,  but  must  be  fed  by  his  wife 
or  a  friend.     He  must  keep  his  neck  and  upper  lip  covered 
with  red  paint,  and  must  wear  plumes  of  shredded  Tetrathera 
wood  in  his  belt  before  and  behind,  and  in  his  necklace  at  the 
back  of  his  neck.     If  he  breaks  any  of  these  rules  it  is  supposed 
that  the  spirit  of  the  man  he  has  killed  will  cause  him  to  be 
ill.     At  the  end  of  a  few  weeks  the  homicide  undergoes  a  sort 
of  purification  ceremony.     His  hands  are  first  rubbed  with 
white  clay  and  then  with  red  paint.     After  this  he  may  wash 
his  hands  and  may  then  feed  himself  with  his  hands  and  may 
handle  bows  and  arrows.     He  retains  the  plumes  of  shredded 
wood  for  a  year  or  so.2 

Among  the  Kiwai  of  British  New  Guinea  "  the  warrior 
who  has  killed  is,  as  only  might  be  expected,  in  continual 
danger  from  the  ghosts  of  those  he  has  slain.  Consequently 
he  must  for  a  month  refrain  from  intercourse  with  women  and 
eat  no  crabs,  crocodile,  sago,  or  pig.  If  he  did,  the  ghost 
would  enter  into  his  blood  and  he  would  certainly  die.  As  a 
further  precaution  against  the  power  of  the  ghosts,  food  and  a 
bowl  of  gamada  (a  native  drink)  are  set  aside  and  flung  away 
with  a  warning  to  the  dead  to  return  to  their  own  place."  3 
Among  the  Orokaiva,  a  tribe  in  the  east  of  British  New  Guinea, 

1  N.  E.  Parry,   The  Lakher$y  pp.      Islanders -,  p.  133. 
-W  *  W.  N.  Beaver,  Unexplored  New 

A.    R.    Brown,    The    Andaman      Guinea,  p.  174. 


a  man  who  has  slain  another  in  a  raid  must  perform  certain 
rites  and  observe  certain  taboos.  He  may  not  drink  pure 
water  out  of  the  river,  but  only  that  which  has  been  stirred 
up  and  made  muddy  by  the  feet  of  a  non-slayer.  He  may  not 
eat  taro  cooked  in  the  pot,  but  only  that  which  has  been  roasted 
in  the  open  fire.  He  must  abstain  from  sexual  intercourse. 
These  restrictions  lasted  for  a  few  days  and  then  the  slayer 
ate  the  same  purificatory  stew  (suna)  which  is  given  to  initiates 
at  the  end  of  their  seclusion.  Mr.  Williams  witnessed  a 
mock  demonstration  which  immediately  preceded  the  eating 
of  the  suna.  The  slayer  climbs  into  a  small  tree  which  contains 
a  nest  of  those  large  and  aggressive  insects  commonly  called 
"  green  n  ants.  The  tree  should  properly  be  of  the  kind 
called  Bobo,  which  is  always  swarming  with  them.  While  he 
crouches  in  a  fork  of  the  tree,  branches  are  broken  and  laid 
over  him  so  that  he  is  almost  completely  covered  and  thoroughly 
bitten.  Having  endured  this  for  some  time  he  climbs  down 
and  eats  the  suna>  steaming  himself  over  the  dish  and  spon- 
ging his  joints  with  handfuls  of  the  stewed  leaves.  Another 
rite  (also  performed  at  the  end  of  the  initiate's  seclusion)  was 
to  break  a  coconut  above  the  head  of  the  slayer  and  souse  his 
head  with  the  milk.  "  It  seems  likely  that  all  these  observ- 
ances and  tabus  are  in  a  sense  not  only  purificatory  but 
defensive.  As  a  rule,  informants  have  no  explanation  to 
offer,  but  I  have  been  informed  directly  that  they  are  meant 
to  drive  away  the  asisi  or  spirit  of  the  slain  man.  In  support 
of  this  view  I  may  quote  what  W.  N.  Beaver  has  written : 
'  I  am  not  disposed  to  the  sole  view  that  the  killer  is  unclean. 
It  seems  to  me  rather  that  rites  are  necessary  to  throw  off  the 
power  of  the  ghost  or  ghosts  of  the  slain.'  "  * 

Among  the  Kai  of  Northern  New  Guinea  when  a  party  of 
warriors  return  to  the  village  after  a  successful  raid  in  which 
they  have  killed  their  enemies  they  are  carefully  avoided  for 
several  days  by  the  villagers,  who  will  not  touch  them 
because  they  believe  that  some  of  the  soul-stuff  of  the  slain 
men  is  adhering  to  the  bodies  of  their  slayers.  If  during 
these  days  of  seclusion  any  one  in  the  village  suffers  a  bodily 
pain,  he  thinks  that  it  must  be  caused  by  his  having  sat  down 

1  F.  E.  Williams,  Orokaiva  Society,  pp.  174  sq.t  quoting  W.  N.  Beaver,  in 
Annual  Report  (1918-1919),  p.  97. 


on  the  place  where  one  of  the  slayers  had  sat  before  him. 
If  any  one  complains  of  the  pangs  of  toothache,  he  thinks  that 
he  must  have  eaten  a  fruit  that  had  been  touched  by  one  of  the 
slayers.  All  the  remains  of  the  food  of  the  slayers  must  be 
carefully  disposed  of,  lest  a  pig  should  eat  of  it,  for  were  it  to 
do  so  it  would  die.  The  remains  are  therefore  either  burned 
or  buried.  The  soul-stuff  of  the  enemies  cannot  seriously 
hurt  the  slayers,  because  these  men  protect  themselves  against 
it  by  smearing  their  bodies  with  the  sap  of  a  liana,  a  tropical 
climbing  plant.1 

In  Mangaia,  one  of  the  Hervey  Islands,  the  inhabitants 
of  which  are  Polynesians,  when  a  warrior  had  slain  an 
enemy  he  became  taboo  (tapit).  He  might,  for  a  certain 
time,  only  kiss, his  wife  and  children.  On  no  account  might 
he  cohabit  with  his  wife  until  the  taboo  had  been  removed. 
During  this  period  of  taboo  all  the  warriors  who  had  taken 
part  in  the  raid  lived  together,  receiving  immense  presents  of 
food.  When  a  sufficient  interval  had  elapsed,  in  preparation 
for  the  removal  of  the  taboo,  they  would  go  unitedly  to  fish.2 

Among  the  Eskimo  of  Langton  Bay  in  North  America,  a 
man  who  has  killed  an  Indian  or  a  whale  had  to  refrain  from 
all  work  for  five  days  and  from  certain  foods  for  a  whole  year. 
Notably  he  might  not  eat  the  intestines  of  any  animals  or 
their  heads.3  Among  the  Eskimo  of  Chesterfield  Inlet,  "  it 
is  the  custom  that  when  an  Eskimo  kills  a  person,  he  must  not 
handle  rocks  for  a  certain  time,  and  he  must  eat  only  straight 
meat,  and  when  he  eats,  he  must  be  under  some  shelter  from 
the  sun.  Ouang-Wak  was  made  to  observe  these  customs, 
and  did  so  while  I  was  there.  This  was  proof  that  Ouang- 
Wak  killed  these  two  men."  4 

Elsewhere  we  have  seen  that  in  primitive  society  hunters 
and  fishers  have  often  to  observe  taboos  and  undergo  rites  of 
purification,  which  are  probably  dictated  by  a  fear  of  the 
spirits  of  the  animals  or  fish  which  they  have  killed  or  in- 
tended to  kill.5  To  the  examples  of  such  taboos  which  I  have 

1  R.  Neuhauss,  op.  tit*  iii.  132.  Eskimo  (London,  1913),  p.  367. 

2  W.  W.  Gill,  "  Mangaia,  Hervey  4  Report  of  the   Royal  Canadian 
Islands,"   in    Second  Report   of  the  Mounted  Police    for    1921    (Ottawa, 
Australasian  Association  for  the  Ad-  1922),  p.  36. 

vancement  of  Science  (1890),  p.  333.  *  Taboo  and  the  Perils  of  the  Soul, 

•  V.  Stefansson,  My  Life  with  the     pp.  190  sqq. 


there  cited  I  may  here  add  a  few  more.  Thus  among  the 
Basoga  of  Uganda  "  during  their  expedition  huntsmen  are 
careful  to  abstain  from  washing  and  from  any  contact  with 
women."  l  Among  the  Kwottos  of  Northern  Nigeria  the 
magical  preparation  of  the  bows  and  arrows,  for  the  hunt  is  a 
matter  of  great  importance  to  the  success  of  the  enterprise. 
"  But  this  is  not  all,  for  the  hunter  has  to  put  himself  into  a 
fit  state  to  handle  his  weapons  after  their  being  thus  saturated 
with  spiritual  potency.  To  this  end  the  conscientious  hunter 
abstains  from  sexual  intercourse  for  a  considerable  time 
before  the  hunt ;  otherwise  his  touch  would  spoil  the  efficacy 
of  his  weapons.  No  woman  is  allowed  to  touch  the  latter  for 
the  same  reason.  Should  she  do  so,  it  is  believed  that  she 
herself  would  become  afflicted  with  a  skin  disease  which  would 
cause  her  continually  to  scratch  herself  in  much  the  same 
way  as  a  person  might  be  scratched  with  an  arrow.  After 
returning  from  a  hunt,  men  commonly  eschew  sexual  relations 
for  the  space  of  up  to  two  months.  A  breaking  of  this  taboo, 
it  is  believed,  would  result  in  illness."  z  Among  the  Wa-Sania 
of  Kenya  a  man  does  not  cohabit  with  his  wife  during  the 
hunting  season.  Otherwise  he  believes  he  would  have  bad 
luck  in  the  chase.3 

Among  the  Wandamba,  a  tribe  of  Tanganyika,  "  in  each 
locality  there  is  usually  a  principal  fundi  (skilled  man),  who 
makes  the  medicine  and  directs  operations  in  the  hunt,  in 
which  he  is  assisted  by  several  lesser  mafundi,  all  of  them 
being  in  the  employ  of  the  chief  of  their  tribe.  For  seven 
days  prior  to  the  setting  out  of  an  expedition  each  member  of 
the  party  abstains  from  sexual  intercourse  and  retires  morning 
and  evening  to  a  place  of  privacy,  either  in  the  bush  or  in  the 
enclosed  courtyard  (uanj'a)  of  his  house,  where  he  bathes  his 
whole  person  thoroughly  from  head  to  foot.  During  the  last 
three  days  he  fasts,  and  on  the  eighth  day,  i.e.  the  day  before 
starting,  all  the  hunters  meet  together  at  a  lonely  spot  in  the 
bush  where  the  head  fundi  makes  a  fire  and  boils  in  a  large 
pot  a  concoction  of  water  and  the  bark  and  leaves  of  the 


1  J.  Roscoe,  The  Northern  Bantu,  *  W.  E.  H.  Barrett,  in  Journal  of 
p.  239.  the  Royal  Anthropological  Institute , 

2  J.  R.  Wilson-Haffenden,  The  Red  xli.  (19':  i)  p.  31. 
Men  of  Nigeria  (London,  1930),  p.  176. 


following  seven  trees.  .  .  .    The  resultant  mixture  is  sticky 
and  unpleasant ;    nevertheless,  each  man  bathes  in  it,  after 
which  they  proceed  to  cut  small  gashes  in  each  other  with 
sharp  knives.     These  gashes  are  from   I   cm.  to  2  cm.  in 
length,  and  vary  considerably  in  number,  but  always  consist 
of  double  sets  of  two  or  more,  one  set  on  each  side  of  the 
radius  or  humerus,  close  to  the  bone.     An  average  number  is 
half  a  dozen  double  sets  of  two  to  four  on  each  arm,  but  a 
fellow  who  fancies  himself  as  a  fire-eater  will  often  continue 
the  sets  almost  unbroken  from  thumb  to  shoulder,  and  even 
have  a  set  at  the  back  of  each  shoulder.     The  head  fundi 
then  pounds  the  mixture  upon  a  stone  and  rubs  it  into  the 
cuts  with  small  twigs  of  msoro,  after  which  they  all  lick 
the  stone  clean.     The  ceremony,  which  is  said  to  serve  the 
threefold  purpose  of  diminishing  their  scent,  helping  them  to 
shoot  well,  and  preserving  them  from  attack,  must  be  per- 
formed before  each  trip,  though  after  the  first  time  it  is  not 
necessary  to  make  fresh  cuts,  but  only  to  reopen  the  old  ones. 
On  the  rare  occasions  when  a  man  goes  out  alone,  he  observes 
the  same  procedure,  enlisting  the  services  of  another  old 
hunter.     Later,  in  the  evening,  the  party  dance  before  the 
people  in  the  uanja  (open  space  in  the  village),  thrusting  their 
spears  at  insects  and  other  marks  even  though  they  hunt  with 
guns,  singing  hunting  songs  and  invoking  the  spirits  of  dead 
hunters  not  to  haunt  them.     Then,  after  another  night  of 
abstinence,  they  set  out  on  their  adventure."  *    Among  the 
Wahehe,  another  tribe  of  Tanganyika,  it  is  strictly  forbidden 
for  a  hunter  to  cohabit  with  a  woman  the  night  before  he  goes 
out  to  hunt.  Were  he  to  do  so,  it  is  thought  that  he  would  only 
have  himself  to  blame  if  he  lost  his  life  in  the  hunt.2    Among 
the  Boloki  or  Bangala  of  the  Upper  Congo  the  hunters  who 
set  traps  for  special  game,  such  as  elephants,  had,  from  that 
moment,  to  abstain  from  all  intercourse  with  women  until  an 
animal  had  been  caught  in  the  trap  and  killed.     Otherwise 
their  luck  would  be  bad  and  their  trap  unsuccessful.     The 
same  prohibition  was  enforced  on  hunters  who  made  traps 

1  A.  G.  O.  Hodgson,  "  Some  Notes  p.  60, 
on  the  Hunting  Customs  of  the  Wand- 

amba/'    in  Journal    of   the    Royal          *  E.  Nigmann,  Die  Wahehe  (Ber- 

Anthropological  Institute,  Ivi*  (1926)  lin',  1908),  p.  120. 


for  bush-pigs  and  burrowing  animals.1  In  the  same  tribe  a 
similar  taboo  is  observed  by  fishermen,  who  while  they  are 
making  their  traps  must  abstain  from  all  intercourse  with 
women,  and  this  prohibition  continues  until  the  trap  has 
caught  some  fish  and  the  said  fish  has  been  eaten,  otherwise 
they  will  have  no  luck  in  fishing.  This  abstinence  may  last 
some  few  weeks,  or  only  a  few  days.2  Among  the  Bakongo 
of  the  Lower  Congo,  before  hunters  go  out  to  hunt  they  pay 
a  visit  to  the  grave  of  a  famous  hunter,  where  they  worship 
his  spirit.  From  that  time  until  they  kill  an  animal  they  must 
abstain  from  all  intercourse  with  women,  for  otherwise  their 
hunting  magic  would  not  work.3 

Among  the  Badjo,  a  tribe  of  the  Belgian  Congo,  on  the 
eve  of  departure  for  a  hunt  and  during  the  whole  time  of  the 
hunt  a  hunter  must  abstain  from  cohabiting  with  his  wife. 
During  his  absence  a  fire  must  be  kept  up  continually  in  his 
hut.  To  maintain  it  is  the  duty  of  his  first  or  principal  wife, 
and  the  hunter  may  eat  only  the  food  which  she  has  cooked 
upon  it  for  him.  If  the  hunter  is  a  bachelor,  he  heaps  up  the 
fire  in  his  hut  before  his  departure,  and  if  on  his  return  the  fire 
has  gone  out  he  lights  it,  with  a  particular  kind  of  bark,  which 
gives  out  a  sweet  odour.  In  the  same  tribe  fishermen  observe 
a  similar  rule  of  chastity  the  night  before  they  go  out  fishing. 
Menstruous  women,  and  women  who  have  been  pregnant 
for  at  least  three  months,  and  their  husbands,  may  not  par- 
ticipate in  the  fishing.4 

Among  the  Tumbuka,  a  tribe  of  Nyasaland,  the  taboos 
observed  at  the  hunting  of  elephants  were  particularly  strict. 
"  When  all  the  preparations  for  the  expedition  were  made, 
and  sacrifice  had  been  offered  to  the  spirits  of  the  dead,  the 
chief  hunter  charged  the  villagers  that  remained  that  there 
must  be  no  quarrelling  or  immorality  indulged  in  within 
the  village.  None  were  to  leave  their  homes  to  visit  other 
places,  but  all  were  to  remain  quiet  and  law-abiding  lest  the 
game  disappear,  or  turn  in  anger  and  rend  the  hunters.  As 
he  left  the  village  he  blew  a  loud  blast  on  a  little  horn  he 

1  J.    H.    Weeks,    Among    Congo      tive  Bdkongo^  p.  183. 
Cannibals,  p.  233. 

2  Ibid.  p.  244.  4  M.   G.   Bernard,   Notes  Sur  let 
•  J.  H.  Weeks,  Among  the  Prt'mi*      Badjo  (Brussels,  1914),-??-  36 


carried,  and  shouted  back  to  the  people,  '  Let  those  who 
have  gone  before  go  in  peace  ;  let  him  that  utters  my  name 
die.*     The  curse  was  to  prevent  any  talk  about  the  projected 
hunt  lest  the   game   hear  about  it  and   hide  away.  .  .  . 
Throughout  these  days  of  travel  and  sport  the  chief  hunter 
lived  alone,  slept  and  ate  by  himself,  and  was  held  in  great 
reverejnce.     Those   who    accompanied    him    had    to   guard 
most  carefully  their  moral  conduct,  and  husbands  had  no 
intercourse  with   their  wives.*1  x    Among  the   Ila-speaking 
tribes  of  Northern  Rhodesia  "  men  going  to  fish,  or  to  set 
traps,  or  to  dig  game-pits  must  not  visit  their  wives  or  other 
women  the  night  before.     Some  men  will  not  do  it  before 
going  to  hunt,  lest,  as  they  say,  they  should  be  hurt  on  the 
way  or  be  mauled  by  a  wild  beast.     Others,  on  the  contrary, 
regard  intercourse  as  giving  them  good  luck  during  the  hunt. 
The  bashilwando  must  abstain  all  the  time  they  are  fishing."2 
Speaking  of  the  tribes  of  Northern  Rhodesia  in  general, 
other  writers  tell  us  that  "  in  the  important  enterprises  of 
life  such  as  hunting  and  fishing,   natives  will  submit  to 
certain  taboos.     While  a  weir  is  being  built  and  fish  baskets 
are  set,  the  Bisa  fisherman  who  cuts  the  weir  stakes  must 
live  apart  from  his  wife,  and  the  majority  of  the  Hunters, 
members  of  the  society  of  Uwanga  wa  nzovu^  are  bound  to 
abstain  from  certain  foods,  and  live  in  the  bachelors'  quarters 
some  days  before  starting  in  pursuit  of  a  dangerous  animal."3 
With  regard  to  hunters  among  the  Thonga  or  Ronga  of 
South-East  Africa  we   are   told   that   "  these   professional 
hunters  are  subject  to  many  taboos.  .  .  .  They  must  undergo 
a  purification  before  starting,  and  also  be  inoculated  in  the 
wrists  with  special  drugs,  the  most  important  being  those 
of  the  tintebe,  the  same  which  is  used    by  the  slayers  of 
enemies  in  battle.  ...  In  some  cases  they  have  to  prepare 
themselves  for  their  expeditions  by  daily  ablutions  and  by 
absolute   continence  for  a  certain  number  of  days.     The 
sacrifice  of  a  fowl  is  also  sometimes  made  before  starting. 
It  is  taboo  for  adults  to  eat  the  meat  of  this  fowl ;  it  might 

1  D.  Fraser,  Winning  a  Primitive  3  C,   Gouldsbury  and   H.   Sheane, 

People  >  p.  136.  The  Great  Plateau  of  Northern  Rho- 

1  E.  W.  Smith  and  A.  M.  Dale,  op.  desia,  pp.  97 
tit.  ii.  44. 


endanger  the  success  of  the  expedition.  Little  children  may 
eat  it :  '  they  are  quiet '  (i.e.  they  have  no  sexual  relations), 
and  so  the  hunting  will  not  be  spoilt."1  At  some  of  the 
rivers  in  the  country  of  the  Thonga  there  are  men  who  make 
it  their  profession  to  hunt  the  hippopotamus.  They  are 
called  batimba.  "  This  is  the  manner  in  which  these  batimba 
hunt.  During  the  day  the  hunter  fishes,  watching  the  move- 
ments of  the  hippopotami  all  the  time.  When  he  sees  that 
the  propitious  moment  has  come  and  is  ready  to  undertake 
hunting  operations  lasting  a  month,  he  first  calls  his  own 
daughter  to  his  hut  and  has  sexual  relations  with  her.  This 
incestuous  act,  which  is  strongly  taboo  in  ordinary  life,  has 
made  him  into  a  '  murderer  '  :  he  has  killed  something  at 
home  ;  he  has  acquired  the  courage  necessary  for  doing 
great  deeds  on  the  river  !  Henceforth  he  will  have  no  sexual 
relations  with  his  wives  during  the  whole  campaign."2 

In  India  the  Birhors  of  Chota  Nagpur  observe  an  annual 
hunt.  All  the  able-bodied  men  of  a  number  of  villages 
assemble  for  the  hunt.  In  each  village  on  the  night  pre- 
ceding the  hunt  the  chief  hunter  and  his  wife  must  observe 
strict  sexual  continence.  And  during  the  absence  of  the 
hunters  all  the  women  of  the  village  are  bound  to  observe 
the  same  rule,  for  otherwise  it  is  believed  that  the  hunters 
would  certainly  be  unsuccessful.3  The  Oraons,  another 
tribe  of  Chota  Nagpur,  similarly  hold  a  communal  hunt 
every  summer.  "  The  huntsmen  leave  home  on  a  Thursday 
evening  and  return  to  their  villages  generally  on  the  Tuesday 
following.  During  all  these  days  not  only  do  the  men  of  the 
party,  but  all  the  members  of  their  families  left  behind  in 
their  villages  must  observe  strict  sexual  continence.  It  is 
believed  that  if  this  tabu  is  disregarded  by  any  Oraon,  male 
or  female,  his  or  her  fellow-villagers,  or  at  any  rate  the 
members  of  his  or  her  family  who  may  have  joined  in  the 
hunt,  are  sure  to  have  ill  success  at  the  hunt.  Another  tabu 
which  the  stay-at-home  Oraons  of  such  villages  have  to  observe 
is  that  they  must  not  kill,  beat,  or  even  purchase  any  eatable 
fowl  or  animal  so  long  as  the  hunters  are  away  from  home."4 

1  H.  A.  Junod,  The  Life  of  a  South          *  S.  C.  Roy,  The  Birhors,  pp.  77  sq* 
African  Tribe,  ii.  60.  4  S-    C.    Roy,    The    Orannsr   pp. 

2  H.  A.  Junod,  op.  cit.  ii.  p.  68.  231  sq. 


Among  the  Lakhers,  a  tribe  of  Assam,  "when  a  hunter  has 
killed  any  of  the  larger  animals,  on  his  return  home  he  performs 
a  sacrifice  called  Salupakia,  the  object  of  which  is  to  give 
him  power  in  the  next  world  over  the  spirit  of  the  animal 
he  has  killed,  to  please  the  dead  animal's  soul,  and  so  also 
to  help  him  to  kill  many  more  animals  in  future.  Either  a 
pig  or  a  fowl  may  be  sacrificed.  If  a  fowl  is  used,  the 
sacrifice  is  performed  immediately  the  hunter  returns  home  ; 
if  a  pig,  the  sacrifice  is  postponed  till  next  morning.  When 
a  fowl  is  killed,  the  women  may  not  eat  any  part  of  it,  but  if 
the  sacrifice  is  a  pig,  women  may  eat  any  part  of  it  except  the 
head,  which  may  be  eaten  only  by  men.  .  .  *  For  the  day 
and  night  of  the  sacrifice  the  sacrificer  and  his  family  are 
pana  (taboo),  and  the  women  of  the  house  may  not  weave. 
That  night  it  is  ana  (forbidden)  for  the  sacrificer  to  sleep 
with  his  wife  or  any  other  woman  ;  he  must  sleep  on  the 
place  where  the  sacrifice  was  made.  The  Lakhers  believe 
that  on  the  night  of  this  sacrifice  the  spirit  of  the  animal  shot 
comes  and  watches  the  man  who  has  killed  it,  and  if  it  saw 
him  sleeping  with  his  wife,  would  say,  '  Ah,  this  man  prefers 
women  to  me/  and  would  go  and  inform  all  the  other  animals 
that  the  man  who  had  shot  him  was  unworthy  to  be  allowed 
to  shoot  any  more  animals,  as  he  was  fonder  of  women  than 
of  the  chase.  A  man  who  broke  the  prohibition  on  sexual 
intercourse  on  Salupakia  night  would  therefore  be  unable 
to  kill  any  more  animals."1 

Among  the  Kiwai  of  British  New  Guinea,  "a  man  must 
not  go  out  hunting  or  fishing  while  his  wife  is  in  childbed  or 
in  her  menses,  or  he  will  be  killed  by  a  pig  or  a  shark,  or 
meet  with  some  other  calamity.  The  blood  flowing  from 
his  wounds  in  such  a  case  is  associated  with  that  of  his  wife. 
.  .  .  Previous  to  a  hunting  or  fishing  tour  a  man  must  not 
have  connection  with  his  wife,  as  this  would  cause  the  same 
misfortune.  If  a  woman  is  '  humbugged  '  by  another  man 
while  her  husband  is  away  hunting  or  fishing,  the  latter  will 
meet  with  nothing  but  ill-luck.  A  man  who  is  going  out 
hunting  will  not  speak  of  it  beforehand  to  anybody,  for  in 
that  case  he  is  sure  to  fail ;  nor  is  it  considered  good  form  for 
any  one  to  ask  a  hunter  where  he  is  going.  Everybody  must 

1  N.  E.  Parry,  The  Lakhers,  p,  140. 


judge  for  himself;  sometimes  even  the  people  living  in  the 
same  house  feign  sleep  and  pretend  not  to  notice  when  the 
hunter  gets  up  in  the  early  morning  and  quietly  goes  out. 
Supposing  two  men  are  arranging  to  go  out  together  the 
next  day,  they  will  speak  to  each  other  with  marked  caution, 
and  in  the  morning  before  starting  no  mention  whatever 
must  be  made  of  the  enterprise,  each  must  get  ready  inde- 
pendently by  the  right  moment.  The  only  sign  which  may 
be  given  is  a  low  whistle,  by  which  the  one  man  lets  his  friend 
know  that  he  is  going  and  expects  him  to  follow.  Not  even 
the  hunter's  wife  may  speak  to  him  about  his  undertaking. 
If  he  is  obliged  to  refer  to  it,  he  will  do  so  in  a  whisper,  only 
hinting  vaguely  at  his  object.  The  reason  for  all  these 
precautions  is  plainly  stated  by  the  natives  :  if  a  hunting 
trip  were  openly  discussed  beforehand,  some  invisible  spirit 
might  hear  what  was  being  said  and  carry  the  news  to  the 
animals  in  the  bush."1 

Among  the  Bukaua,  a  tribe  of  Northern  New  Guinea, 
there  is  a  magician  whose  special  business  is  to  secure  a  good 
catch  of  the  bonito  fish.  He  takes  a  bowl,  at  each  side  of 
which  there  is  a  small  representation  of  the  bonito  rod,  fills 
the  bowl  with  sea-water,  and  throws  into  it  certain  leaves  and 
portions  of  plants.  Then  he  takes  the  bowl  and  hides  it  in  a 
secret  place  in  the  forest  till  the  contents  of  the  bowl  are  foul 
and  stinking,  and  worms  appear  in  the  water.  These  worms 
represent  the  bonito  fish  which  are  to  be  caught.  All  the 
time  that  this  bowl  remains  in  the  forest  the  fish-maker  has 
to  observe  certain  taboos.  He  may  not  come  into  contact 
with  running  water,  he  may  have  no  sexual  intercourse,  and 
he  may  chew  no  betel.  But  he  should  eat  much  taro,  which 
is  brought  to  him  by  a  small  girl  or  a  young  boy.  The  more 
taro  he  eats,  the  larger  will  be  the  fish,  and  the  more  numerous 
the  catch.  From  time  to  time  he  goes  to  the  sea  and  makes 
movements  with  his  hands,  as  though  he  would  draw  the  fish 
from  all  directions,  and  he  imitates  their  leaps.  When  the 
bowl  in  the  forest  is  full  of  worms  and  maggots,  which  repre- 
sent the  bonito  and  other  fish  to  be  caught,  the  fish-maker 
takes  the  bowl  to  the  beach  and  empties  the  bowl  into  the  sea. 
On  that  day  no  one  in  the  village  may  work,  and  they  offer  a 

1  G,  Landtman,  The  Kiwai  Papuans  of  British  New  Guinea,  pp.  114  sq. 



sacrifice  to  Balum,  that  he  may  not  eat  the  bonito  fish.  The 
sacrifice  consists  of  nuts,  banana,  and  taro,  from  which  a 
great  feast  is  prepared.  The  fish-maker  himself  may  not  eat 
of  the  bonito  fish,  or  his  body  would  break  out  in  dreadful 
sores,  and  his  whole  magic  would  be  rendered  useless.1 

In  the  Caroline  Islands  every  man  who  is  preparing  to  go 
fishing  may,  according  to  established  conventions,  have  no 
commerce  with  his  wife  for  the  preceding  eight  or  nine  days, 
and  is  obliged  to  pass  the  same  number  of  nights  in  the  com- 
munal house  assigned  to  the  unmarried  men.  This  custom  is 
maintained  with  the  utmost  rigour,  and  whoever  has  received 
the  slightest  favour  from  any  woman  is  forced  to  submit  to  it, 
or  to  renounce  his  part  in  the  fishing,  if  he  does  not  wish, 
according  to  the  general  belief,  to  contract  the  most  dangerous 
maladies,  particularly  inflammation  of  the  legs.  Moreover, 
he  may  not  touch  the  fishing  apparatus  for  twenty-four  hours 
after  he  has  had  commerce  with  his  wife.  These  customs  are 
reported  by  a  French  voyager  in  the  early  part  of  the  nineteenth 
century.2  They  may  to  some  extent  now  be  obsolete.  A 
writer  of  the  twentieth  century,  in  speaking  of  Yap,  one  of  the 
Caroline  Islands,  merely  says  that  before  going  to  fish  a  man 
may  not  cohabit  with  his  wife,  and  that  after  his  return  he 
may  for  a  time  eat  only  the  flesh  of  ripe  coconuts.3 

But  in  primitive  society  warriors  and  manslayers,  hunters 
and  fishers  were  by  no  means  the  only  persons  who  were  bound 
to  practise  strict  continence  for  a  longer  or  shorter  period. 
The  same  rule  was  observed  by  many  other  persons  on  many 
other  occasions  of  life.  To  the  examples  of  this  custom  which 
I  have  given  elsewhere  I  may  briefly  add  a  few  more,  as 
illustrative  of  the  high  importance  which,  under  many  circum- 
stances, primitive  or  savage  man  attributes  to  sexual  purity.4 
Thus  for  example  the  custom  is  often  observed  in  time  of 
mourning,  probably  out  of  respect  for  the  spirit  of  the  deceased, 
who  might  be  offended  by  any  breach  of  the  rule.  The 
practice  is  enjoined,  for  instance,  in  the  Banyoro  and  Basoga 
tribes  of  Uganda,  in  Annam,  and  in  the  Marshall  Islands  of 

*  R.  Neuhauss,  op.  cit.  iii.  454  sgm  (I9I3)  P- 

*  F.    Lutk£,     Voyage    autour    du 

Monde  (Paris,  1835-1836),  iii.  151  sq.  *  Compare  Taboo  and  the  Perils  of 

3  P.  S.  Wallftser,  in  Anthropo$t  viii.  the  Soul,  p.  200 




the  Pacific.1  In  Loango  and  Urundi,  a  ^district  tc  the  west 
of  Lake  Victoria  Nyanza,  it  is  observed  after  the  death  of  a 
king,  and  in  the  latter  country,  during  the  mourning  for  a 
king,  the  rule  of  continence  is  extended  to  animals.  Cattle, 
sheep,  goats,  and  fowls  are  all  prevented  from  breeding.  The 
people  believe  that  if  a  child  were  begotten  during  the  mourn- 
ing for  a  king  his  successor  would  die.2  Among  the  Banyan- 
kole  of  Uganda,  during  the  mourning  for  a  king  or  queen, 
the  scrotums  of  bulls  were  tied  to  prevent  their  breeding,  and 
after  the  mourning  they  were  killed.3  Among  the  Banyoro 
of  Uganda  "  during  the  time  that  the  smelters  are  engaged  in 
making  charcoal,  digging  the  iron-stone  and  smelting,  they 
live  apart  from  other  men  and  their  wives  and  observe  strict 
rules  of  chastity."  4  So  among  the  Ila-speaking  tribes  of 
Northern  Rhodesia,  "  during  the  time  the  smelters  (bashin- 
ganzo)  are  sojourning  in  their  shelters  they  are  in  a  state  of 
strict  taboo  (balatonda  chininf).  If  one  wishes  to  visit  the 
village,  he  must  on  no  account  have  connection  with  his  wife. 
.  .  .  Should  a  man  transgress  by  having  intercourse  with  his 
wife  or  any  other  woman,  they  say  the  smelting  would  be  a 
failure."  6  In  the  Gogodara  tribe  of  British  New  Guinea 
while  a  canoe  is  building  the  builder  and  his  assistants  are 
bound  to  observe  strict  continence,  and  the  women  are  for- 
bidden even  to  look  at  the  canoe  while  it  is  building  and  at 
the  men  who  are  doing  the  work.  They  think  that  if  any  of 
these  customs  were  neglected,  some  evil  would  befall  the 
canoe.6  Among  the  Kiwai  of  British  New  Guinea  while  a 
man  is  making  a  drum  he  refrains  from  cohabiting  with  his 
wife.  It  is  believed  that  if  he  broke  the  rule  the  drum  would 
break.7  In  the  same  tribe  "  during  the  whole  time  that  the 
harpoon-maker  is  engaged  in  his  work,  he  must  refrain  from 
sexual  connection  with  his  wife,  and  she  is  not  even  allowed 

1  J.  Roscoe,  The  Northern  Bantu, 
pp.  59,  201,  226 ;   P.  Giran,  Magi*  et 
Religion  Annamites,  p.  405 ;    P.  A. 
Erdland,     Die     Marshall- Insulaner, 

p.  326. 

2  H.  Meyer,  Die  Barundi,  p.  187  \ 
Die  Loango  Expedition,  iii.  2,  p.  155. 

3  J.  Roscoe,  The  Banyankole,  p.  60. 

4  J.  Roscoe,  The  Northern  Bantu, 


*  E.  W.  Smith  and  A.  M.  Dale,  op. 
cit.  i.  206.  As  to  a  similar  taboo 
among  the  Fan,  see  below,  p.  259. 

6  A.  P.  Lyon,  "  Notes  on  the  Go- 
godara Tribe  of  Western  Papua,"  in 
Journal  of  the  Royal  Anthropological 
Institute,  Ivi.  (1926)  p.  349. 

7  G.  Landtman,  The  Kiwai  Papu- 
ans of  British  New  Guinea,  p.  45. 


to  come  near  the  place  in  the  bush.  The  presence  of  a 
menstruous  woman  is  particularly  disastrous,  as  it  would 
infallibly  cause  the  cleaving  of  the  tree  to  go  wrong.  Even 
the  married  sister  of  the  harpoon-maker  can  injure  his  work 
from  a  distance,  through  the  magic  tie  which  exists  between 
her  and  her  brother,  if  she  does  not  take  care  as  to  her  conduct 
at  that  time.  On  the  critical  day  when  the  cleaving  of  the 
tree  is  to  take  place,  the  harpoon-maker  will  ask  his  sister  to 
leave  her  home  and  stay  at  his  house,  where  she  and  his  wife 
will  spend  the  day  together.  The  reason  for  this  precaution 
is  that  otherwise  the  sister  and  her  husband  might  happen  to 
have  intercourse  on  that  very  day,  which  would  ruin  the  cleav- 
ing of  the  tree.  The  sister  and  her  husband  willingly  submit 
to  this  arrangement,  well  knowing  that  the  making  of  the 
harpoon  will  in  time  benefit  them  as  well  as  the  whole  village." 1 
In  the  same  tribe  again  a  man  may  not  cohabit  with  his  wife 
the  night  before  he  goes  to  work  in  his  garden,  nor  on  his  way 
to  the  garden  nor  during  an  interval  in  the  work  there.  It  is 
thought  that  a  breach  of  the  rule  would  cause  the  pigs  to 
break  into  the  garden.2  In  the  Kai  tribe  of  Northern  New 
Guinea  when  a  sorcerer  is  preparing  his  enchantments  for  the 
destruction  of  an  enemy  he  may  not  even  touch  a  woman,  nor 
receive  food  at  the  hands  of  men  who  have  had  intercourse 
with  women.  It  is  believed  that  a  breach  of  these  rules  would 
endanger  the  success  of  his  enchantment.3 

1  G.  Landtman,  op,  cit.  p.  122,  *  R.  Neuhauss,  op.  cit.  iii,  137. 

1  G.  Landtman,  op.  cit.  p.  68. 



IN  the  opinion  of  the  savage  certain  things  as  well  as  certain 
persons  are  subject  to  the  mysterious  influence  of  taboo,  and 
according  to  circumstances  their  use  may  be  forbidden  or 
enjoined.     Among  such  objects  of  ambiguous  potency  in  the 
thinking  of  primitive  man  is  iron.     To  the  examples  which  I 
have  elsewhere  given  of  the  superstitions  that  cluster  round 
iron  in  the  mind  of  primitive  man  I  may  here  add  a  few  more.1 
Thus  the  Wajagga  of  Mount  Kilimanjaro  in  East  Africa  think 
that  the  magical  power  which  resides  in  iron  is  inimical  to  life 
and  to  peace.     Hence  when  two  men  are  forming  a  covenant 
of  blood  brotherhood,  if  both  intend  to  be  faithful  to  the 
compact  they  are  very  careful  to  have  no  scrap  of  iron  about 
their  persons,  for  the  smallest  morsel  of  the  metal  would 
render  the  covenant  invalid.     But  if  one  of  the  parties  is 
treacherous,  and  seeks  for  a  loop-hole  by  which  to  escape  from 
his  obligation,  he  will  secrete  a  small  piece  of  iron  about  his 
person,  if  it  be  only  a  needle  in  his  hair,  to  give  him  an  ex- 
cuse for  renouncing  the  covenant.     Some  neighbours  of  the 
Wajagga  suspect  that  tribe  of  often  practising  this  treachery, 
and  are  therefore  very  distrustful  of  them  in  any  dealings  they 
may  have  with  the  tribe.2     In  Kitui,  a  district  of  Kenya,  the 
natives  will  not  use  iron  in  the  fields,  for  they  think  that  this 
would  drive  away  the  rain.     Mr.  Dundas,  who  reports  this 
custom  and  belief,  adds,  "  probably  the  same  reason  underlies 
the  objection  to  the  railway.     I  talked  to  an  old  man  on  the 

1  See  Taboo  and  the  Perils  of  the     in  Zeitschrift  fur  Ethnologit,   xliv 
Soul,  pp.  224  sqq.  (1912)  p.  93. 

*  B.    Gutmann,    "  Der   Schmied," 



subject,  but  got  very  little  out  of  him  but  a  look  which  plainly 
said  that  if  I  did  not  know  that  to  lay  an  iron  band  all  across 
the  country  was  enough  to  drive  all  rain  away,  what  did 
I  know."  l  The  Wakikuyu,  another  tribe  of  Kenya,  have 
certain  periods  when  sacrifices  for  rain  are  offered,  and  during 
these  periods  no  man  may  touch  the  earth  with  iron.  It  is  a 
very  common  belief  among  the  natives  of  this  part  of  Africa 
that  iron  is  antagonistic  to  rain.  In  Ukamba  the  women  for 
long  refused  to  use  iron  hoes  for  this  reason.2 

The  Toradyas  of  Central  Celebes  are  careful  not  to  place 
any  piece  of  iron  in  a  coffin,  because  they  think  that  the  dead 
person  might  throw  it  out,  and  that  falling  on  the  fields  it 
might  blast  the  rice-crops.3 

But  primitive  man  thinks  that  the  magical  potency  of  iron 
may  be  turned  to  good  as  well  as  to  evil  account ;  in  particular 
it  may  serve  to  guard  him  against  dangerous  spirits.  "  The 
Oraon  and  Munda  practice  of  wearing  rings  and  armlets 
(berd)  made  of  iron  previously  exposed  to  an  eclipse  of  the  sun, 
so  that  the  wearer  may  offer  to  the  '  evil  eye  '  of  witches,  and 
the  evil  attentions  of  ghosts  and  spirits,  a  resistance  as  strong 
as  that  of  iron  so  hardened,  is  an  instance  in  point.  The 
person  wearing  the  armlet  is  believed  to  acquire  the  strength 
of  the  iron  :  and  the  iron  itself  is  believed  to  have  acquired 
greater  virtue  through  the  sympathetic  influence  of  the 
eclipse.  Such  rings  and  armlets  are  believed  to  be  most 
effective  in  averting  a  thunderstroke."  *  To  frustrate  the 
assaults  of  evil  spirits  a  pregnant  Malay  woman  must  always 
carry  a  knife  or  iron  of  some  sort  as  a  talisman  whenever  she 
goes  abroad.5  Similarly  the  protective  virtue  of  iron  against 
spirits  is  recognized  by  the  Mountain  Jews  of  the  Caucasus. 
They  believe  that  there  is  a  water-spirit  called  Ser-Ovi,  who 
has  the  appearance  of  a  tender  snow-white  maiden.  On 
moonlight  nights  she  sits  by  the  wells  and  watches  over  the 
water  to  prevent  people  from  defiling  it.  Often  she  lures 

1  C.  Dundas,  "  History  of  Kitui,"  fit.  ii.  95. 

in  Journal  of  the  Royal  Anthropo-  4  c    /•»    T>        «  n/r     -         j  -or*  i. 

logical  Society,  xliii.  (1913)  P.  5*5  ^  ^J^  1    ^  "Si  *       » 

•  C.    Dundas,    "  Native    Laws    of  ?*  on  *e  <?°*  ^agpur  Plateau," 
Some  Bantu  Tribes,"  in  Journal  of  f  /T?   ^  the*T    ^nthr°P°' 
the  Royal  Anthropological  Institute,  loglcal  InsMut*>  >**•  (W4)  P-  332. 
li.  (1921)  p.  238.  «  R.  O.  Winstedt,  Shaman,  Saiva, 

*  N.  Adriani  and  A.  C.  Kruijt,  op.  and  Sufi ,  p.  117. 

xxii  TABOOED  THINGS  259 

older  people  and  drowns  them,  but  she  leaves  young  people 
in  peace.  But  she  is  afraid  of  steel  and  iron,  and  flees  from 
them.  Hence  when  people  go  to  fetch  water  by  night,  they 
take  with  them  some  implement  of  steel,  and  wave  it  about  in 
the  air  and  over  the  well.  For  the  same  reason  almost  all 
men  and  women  wear  steel  rings  on  their  fingers.1 

In  Africa  the  craft  of  the  smith  is  looked  on  with  awe 
by  the  natives,  who  attribute  magical  or  semi-magical  powers 
to  him.  For  example  among  the  Ndia  Kikuyu  of  Kenya 
the  Ithaga  clan,  who  are  mostly  smiths,  are  supposed  to  be 
the  masters  of  specially  potent  curses,  and  to  be  able  to  ward 
off  or  summon  rain.  Several  cases  are  known  in  which 
general  indignation  was  caused  by  the  alleged  action  of  a 
smith  in  preventing  rain  for  a  considerable  period.2  Among 
the  Fan  or  Pangwe,  a  tribe  of  West  Africa,  the  workers  in 
iron  have  to  observe  many  taboos,  especially  of  the  sexual 
kind.  The  taboos  have  to  be  observed  for  two  months 
before  the  working  of  the  iron  begins,  and  last  throughout 
the  work.  The  restrictions  are  so  burdensome  that  they 
render  the  work  of  iron-smelting  very  unpopular.8 

The  use  of  sharp-edged  weapons  is  sometimes  tabooed 
lest  they  should  wound  spirits.  Among  the  Banyankole  of 
Uganda  when  a  king  died  all  work  ceased  in  the  land  and 
the  blades  of  all  weapons  had  to  be  wrapped  up  in  grass  or 
fibre.  Even  an  axe  might  not  be  used  for  cutting  fire-wood, 
which  had  to  be  broken  by  hand.4  We  may  suppose  that 
the  rule  was  dictated  by  a  fear  of  wounding  the  king's  ghost, 
which  might  be  hovering  in  the  air.  Among  the  Ten'a 
Indians  of  Alaska  after  the  birth  of  a  child  both  parents 
abstain  from  using  any  sharp  instrument,  such  as  an  axe, 
a  knife,  scissors,  and  so  forth.  Neighbours  have  to  saw  and 
split  wood,  and  do  the  sewing  for  them.  It  is  supposed  that 
the  parents,  by  using  those  cutting  instruments,  might  per- 
chance clip  and  sever  an  imaginary  thread  of  life  of  the  child.6 

Again  among  primitive  peoples  blood  is  the  subject  of 
many  taboos.  The  divine  king  of  the  Bushongo  was  pro- 

1  C.    Hahn,   Aus    dem    Kaukasus  *  J.  Roscoe,  The  Banyankole,  p.  52. 
(Leipzig,  1892),  pp.  189  sq. 

2  G.    St.    J.    Orde    Browne,    The  §  F.  J.  Jette*,  "  On  the  Superstitions 
Vanishing  Tribes  of  Kenya,  p.  201.  of  the  Ten'a  Indians,"  in  Anthropos, 

*  G.  Tessraann,  Die  Pangv>e>  i.  225.      vi.  (1911)  pp.  70S 


hibited  by  ancestral  custom  from  spilling  any  blood,  even 
in  war.1  Among  the  Wa-Giriama  of  Kenya  blood  of  a 
human  being  accidentally  shed  is  covered  up  with  earth,  as 
it  is  considered  to  bring  bad  luck  to  others  to  look  at  it.2 
The  taboo  on  blood  is  probably  based  on  the  conception  of 
blood  as  the  vehicle  of  life.  Hence  in  Morocco  "  From  the 
time  the  pilgrim  has  assumed  the  ihram  or  pilgrim's  garb 
until  he  takes  it  off  he  is  not  allowed  to  kill  any  living  creature, 
not  even  the  vermin  troubling  him ;  a  louse  which  he  finds 
on  his  body  or  his  dress  may  be  removed  by  him  to  another 
part  of  it,  but  must  not  be  thrown  away.  Nay,  even  his 
relatives  at  home  are  obliged  to  refrain  from  killing  lice 
during  the  three  days  preceding  the  Great  Feast  and  until 
the  sacrifice  has  been  performed,  as  otherwise  some  mis- 
fortune would  befall  the  pilgrim.  Many  holy  men  avoid 
killing  lice  altogether ;  and  persons  who  are  in  the  habit  of 
praying  only  kill  them  after  they  have  removed  them  from 
their  clothes,  or  at  any  rate  remove  those  they  have  killed 
before  they  begin  their  prayer.  Contact  with  carcasses  is 
polluting.  Even  meat  may  have  to  be  kept  away  from 
baraka  (holiness).  A  scribe  from  the  Hiaina  told  me  that  if 
meat  were  brought  to  the  field  at  ploughing  or  reaping  time, 
the  crops  would  suffer  by  it ;  that  the  shepherd  must  take 
no  meat  with  him  when  he  goes  out  with  the  animals  ;  and 
that  neither  raw  meat  nor  grease  must  be  carried  on  a  horse 
which  has  on  it  a  riding-saddle."  3 

"  Flies  and  mosquitoes  were  not  killed  in  Tonga,  but 
were  driven  away  with  a  whisk  of  coconut  fibre.  The 
mosquito  might  have  bitten  the  sacred  king  (the  Tui  Tonga) 
and  so  his  sacred  blood  would  be  spilled  by  the  man  who 
crushed  the  mosquito."  *  The  Noofoor  Papuans  of  Dutch 
New  Guinea  are  very  much  afraid  of  spilling  the  blood  of 
their  own  kinsfolk.  They  also  carefully  avoid  places  where 
the  blood  of  members  of  their  family  has  flowed,  and  to  the 
third  and  fourth  generation  they  will  not  eat  the  products 

1  E.  Torday  and  E.  J.  Joyce,  Les  p.  35. 

BushongO)  p.  61.  8  E.    Westermarck,    The   Moorish 

*  W.  E.  H.  Barrett,  *'  Notes  on  the  Conception     of    Holiness     (Baraka\ 

Customs    and    Beliefs    of   the   Wa-  pp.  131  sq. 

Giriama,"  in  Journal  of  the  Royal  4  Rev.  G.  Brown,  D.D.,  in  a  letter 

Anthropological  Institute,  xli.  (1911)  to  me  dated  7th  May  1912. 

xxn  TABOOED  THINGS  261 

of  a  spot  where  the  blood  of  orxe  of  their  relatives  has  been 
shed.  Dr  Adriani  says  that  people  are  especially  afraid  to 
shed  the  blood  of  those  who  have  been  guilty  of  incest.1 
In  Bombay  the  blood  of  a  king  is  not  allowed  to  touch  the 

In  the  human  body  the  head  is  particularly  tabooed  or 
sacred.  In  Cambodia  the  head  of  every  person  must  be 
respected,  and  most  especially  the  head  of  the  king.  No 
one  may  touch  the  head  of  a  nursling  at  the  breast  ;  formerly, 
if  any  one  were  so  malicious  as  to  do  so  he  was  put  to  death, 
for  only  thus  could  the  sacrilege  be  atoned  for.3  Again  the 
Wa-Singi  of  Kenya  perform  a  great  ceremony  at  the  circum- 
cision of  youths.  During  the  whole  of  this  ceremony  they 
have  to  take  particular  care  not  to  touch  each  others'  heads 
or  their  hair  falls  off,  so  they  cover  their  heads  with  a  cloth 
or  skin.4 

Again  the  human  hair  as  part  of  the  head  is  also  very 
sacred  and  subject  to  many  taboos.  We  hear  of  a  chief  of 
the  Baganda  who  while  a  temple  was  building  might  neither 
shave  his  head  nor  cut  his  nails,  and  consequently  at  the  end 
of  the  period  presented  the  appearance  of  a  mourner.5 

In  primitive  society  people  are  generally  very  anxious 
about  the  disposal  of  their  cut  hair  and  nails,  because  they 
fear  that  if  these  fall  into  the  hands  of  a  sorcerer  or  witch 
he  might  perform  ceremonies  over  them  which  by  the  force 
of  contagious  magic  would  injuriously  affect  the  original 
owner  of  these  personal  relics.  Thus  among  the  Tumbuka, 
a  tribe  of  Nyasaland,  "  the  commonest  method  of  bewitching 
was  by  getting  possession  of  some  discarded  part  of  the  body. 
Hence  precautions  were  taken  to  conceal  whatever  might 
give  an  enemy  opportunity  to  hurt  the  owner.  When  a, 
man  or  woman  had  the  hair  clipped  or  shaved,  all  the  hair 
was  gathered  and  laid  in  deep  ant-holes,  lest  a  sorcerer 
should  find  it  out  and  knowing  the  owner  do  him  harm. 

1  T.    J.    F.    van    Hassdt,    "  Nu-      tribution  4  T^tude  des  Cambodgiens," 
foorsche  Fabeln,"  in  Bijdragen  tot  de      in     L*  Anthropologie>     xxxi.     (1921) 
Taal't   Land-    en    Volkenkunde   van      p.  317. 

Nedcrlandsche  Indie  t\y^.  (1908)  p.  572.          4  r  w    WrtM__    w*i-Mr«~u  ~t  +1* 

2  ^    T,   T,   .  ,          '  ,7,.     j7  /,  /         f         *  U.  W.  Jtiomey.  &t  Analogy  of  the 

Eoven        ° 

,7,.     j7    ,  /         f 

'       °f 

8  R.  Verneau  and  Pennatier,  **  Con-         *  J.  Roscoe,  The  Bagand&>  p.  303. 



The  sorcerer  might  mix  the  hair  with  medicine  and  cause 
people  to  drink  it  in  their  sleep  by  some  occult  power,  or  he 
might  curse  the  mixture  saying,  '  If  this  hair  is  So-and-So's 
let  him  die,  but  if  not  let  him  recover.'  And  such  a  curse 
was  most  potent.  Chiefs  used  to  get  their  hair  cut  by  a 
slave  who  was  sent  to  throw  it  away  in  some  secret  place  ; 
but  sometimes  the  slave  had  a  cause  of  enmity  in  his  heart, 
and  before  he  hid  it  he  would  curse  the  hair,  and  the  chief 
would  immediately  fall  sick,  and  perhaps  die.  When  finger- 
nails were  cut,  the  clippings  were  hidden  away  or  buried 
in  the  earth  lest  an  enemy  should  find  them  and  slice  them 
up,  causing  the  owner's  death.  When  a  man's  tooth  is  pulled, 
he  is  careful  not  to  leave  it  lying  about,  also  to  cover  with 
earth  the  blood  he  spits  out,  lest  someone  use  these  parts  of 
himself  for  evil  magical  purposes."  *  For  a  similar  reason 
the  Ila-speaking  peoples  of  Northern  Rhodesia  are  usually 
careful  to  bury  their  cut  hair  lest  it  should  fall  into  the  hands 
of  warlocks,  who  might  injure  them  thereby  through  their 
magic.2  To  prevent  their  hair  and  nails  from  falling  into 
the  hands  of  a  hostile  magician,  the  Kpelle  of  Liberia  are 
careful  to  burn  these  personal  relics.3  So  again  among  the 
Malays,  "  clippings  from  hair  or  nails  are  hidden  or  de- 
stroyed for  fear  possession  of  them  may  give  an  enemy 
possession  over  their  owner's  soul  and  so  over  his  life.  .  .  . 
So  strong  is  the  soul-substance  in  the  hair  shorn  at  a  girl's 
first  tonsure  that  it  is  buried  at  the  foot  of  a  barren  tree  to 
bring  fruit  as  luxuriant  as  the  girl's  tresses."  4  So  again  the 
natives  of  San  Cristoval,  one  of  the  Solomon  Islands,  are 
careful  to  bury  the  cuttings  of  their  hair  and  nails  lest  these 
personal  relics  should  fall  into  the  hands  of  a  wizard,  who  by 
means  of  them  might  do  them  a  mischief.5 

The  ceremonies  which  the  malignant  sorcerer  or  witch 
performs  over  these  personal  relics  for  the  injury  or  destruc- 
tion of  his  enemy  vary  considerably.  Thus  in  Yatenga, 
a  district  of  the  Western  Sudan,  the  enchanter  puts  the 
cut  hair  and  nails  in  a  receptacle  of  some  sort  (zoullotogd), 

1  D.  Fraser,  Winning  a  Primitive      p.  206. 

People,  pp.  142  sq.  *  R.  O.  Winstedt,  Shaman,  Saiva, 

2  E.  W.  Smith  and  A.  M.  Dale,  op.      and  Sufi,  p.  65. 

fit.  i.  66.  8  C.  E.  Fox,  The  Threshold  of  the 

•  D,     Westermann,     Die     Kpelle       Pacific,  p.  257 

xxil  TABOOED  THINGS  263 

which  he  compresses  and  binds  tightly.  The  soul  of  his 
victim  suffers  in  this  confinement,  and  the  man  himself  soon 
dies.  But  against  these  charms  by  ligature  and  compression 
there  are  magical  remedies  which  may  be  used  to  counteract 
their  baneful  effect.1  Among  the  Gouro  of  the  north,  in  the 
same  region,  the  wizard  puts  the  cut  hair  and  nails  of  his 
enemy  in  an  ant-hill,  whereupon  the  victim  pines  away  and 
dies,  unless  his  friends  by  using  counter-magic  can  annul 
the  effects  of  the  hostile  charms.2  Among  the  Sinsoro 
Koulangos,  another  tribe  of  the  western  Sudan,  the  en- 
chanter simply  buries  the  hair  and  nails  of  his  foe  along  with 
a  certain  charm,  and  the  victim  is  supposed  to  die.8 

Among  the  Kiwai  of  British  New  Guinea  "  one  means  of 
causing  a  sick  person  to  die  is  to  take  a  little  of  his  hair  and 
excrement,  together  with  some  earth  bearing  traces  of  his 
urine  and  saliva,  and  burn  it  all  in  the  middle  of  the  night  in 
a  small  ant-hill.  The  person  will  die  while  the  fire  is  burn- 
ing. "  4  Hence  the  Kiwai  are  very  careful  about  the  dis- 
posal of  their  cut  hair  and  nails,  lest  they  should  fall  into  the 
hands  of  a  hostile  magician.5 

As  cut  hair  and  nails  are  supposed  by  primitive  man  to 
remain  in  a  sympathetic  relation  with  their  original  owner, 
they  may  obviously  be  employed  as  hostages  for  his  good 
behaviour.  Thus  among  the  Ekoi,  a  tribe  of  Southern 
Nigeria,  when  a  man  received  a  new  slave  in  his  house,  in 
order  to  prevent  him  from  attempting  to  escape,  the  master 
used  to  cut  off  a  lock  of  the  slave's  hair  and  some  parings 
of  his  nails,  and  then  took  a  piece  of  an  old  cloth  which  the 
slave  had  worn.  These  personal  relics  he  carried  to  the 
fetish  or  Juju,  and  there  prayed  that  death  or  recapture  might 
overtake  the  slave  should  he  attempt  to  escape.  After  the 
ceremony  the  pieces  were  carefully  kept  in  a  secret  place, 
and  the  slave  believed  that,  should  he  run  away,  the  Juju 
would  infallibly  catch  him.6  Similarly,  among  the  Wajagga 
of  Mount  Kilimanjaro  in  East  Africa,  when  a  child  or  boy 

1  L.  Tauxier,  Le  Noir  du  Yatenga,          *  G.  Landtman,  The  Kiwai  Papu- 
p.  397-  ons  of  British  New  Guinea,  p.  321. 

2  L.    Tauxier,    Negres    Gouro    et          5  W.  N.  Beaver,   Unexplored  New 
GagoUj  p.  258.  Guinea,  p.  134. 

3  L.   Tauxier,   Le   Noir   de   Bon-          •  P.  A.  Talbot,  In  the  Shadow  of  the 
doukou>  p.  181.  Bush,  p.  327. 


is  restless  and  prone  to  wander  away  from  home,  they  seek 
to  attach  him  to  his  home  by  means  of  his  soul.  In  the 
night,  while  he  sleeps,  his  anxious  mother  cuts  his  finger- 
nails and  some  locks  of  his  hair.  Next  day  a  magician  is 
called  in.  He  binds  these  personal  relics  magically  by 
spitting  on  them  and  hiding  them  with  certain  formulas  in 
a  beam  of  the  house.  By  these  means  the  boy  will  be  at- 
tached to  the  house  and  freed  from  his  tendency  to  wander. 
And  when  a  young  slave  has  been  captured  in  war  and 
brought  to  the  house  a  similar  ceremony  is  performed  to,  pre- 
vent him  from  attempting  to  escape.1 

People  who  believe  that  they  can  be  magically  injured 
through  their  shorn  hair  or  the  parings  of  their  nails  com- 
monly take  great  care  to  hide  these  relics  of  their  person,  so 
as  to  put  them  beyond  the  reach  of  animals  and  the  maleficent 
arts  of  sorcerers.  Thus  for  example  among  the  Tigre 
people  of  Abyssinia,  "  Everybody  gathers  his  hair  when  it 
has  been  shaved  off  and  buries  it  under  a  green  tree  or  hides 
it  in  a  secret  place.  For  a  small  boy  the  parents  take  it 
until  he  grows  up.  But  when  he  arrives  at  the  age  of  dis- 
cretion, they  say  to  him  :  '  Gather  thy  hair  !  '  And  he  him- 
self like  the  grown-up  people  puts  his  hair  in  a  secret  place. 
If  the  wind  carries  the  hair  away,  or  if  a  man  treads  upon 
it,  or,  again,  if  an  animal  eats  it,  they  say  it  is  not  good,  and 
they  are  afraid.  And  some  say  that  if  a  man  has  not  hid 
his  hair,  God  will  account  with  him  in  the  other  world,  say- 
ing :  '  Why  hast  thou  not  gathered  thy  hair  ?  '  Others  say 
that  if  a  man  does  not  hide  his  hair  it  will  be  scanty,  or. that 
he  will  lose  his  reason.  Others  again  say  that  if  the  wind 
scatters  the  hair  of  a  man,  his  family  will  be  scattered  all 
around  ;  or  that  if  an  animal  eats  it  and  is  choked  by  it,  the 
responsibility  for  the  animal  will  be  upon,  the  owner  of  the 
hair.  And  because  they  are  afraid  of  all  this,  everybody 
hides  his  hair.  Men  take  great  care  that  the  nails  of  their 
fingers  and  the  nails  of  their  toes  are  not  lost.  And  every- 
body, at  the  time  when  he  cuts  his  nails  or  when  the  nail  is 
broken  off  by  itself,  takes  great  care  that  they  do  not  slip 
away  from  him ;  and  he  wraps  his  nails  in  a  rag  and  buries 
this  in  the  ground.  Or  even  if  he  buries  them  without  a 

1  B.  Gutmann,  Dichttn  und  Denken  dtr  Dsckaggancgcr,  p.  65. 

xxn  TABOOED  THINGS  265 

rag  it  does  not  matter.  And  all  of  them  bury  their  nails 
thus.  But  if  anybody  does  not  pay  attention  to  gathering 
his  nails,  he  is  asked  about  them  at  the  day  of  resurrection, 
and  it  is  said  to  him  :  '  Where  hast  thou  put  thy  nails  ?  * 
And  he  is  told  to  seek  them,  but  he  does  not  find  them.  And 
they  say  that  in  this  way  his  account  grows  heavier,  or  else 
that  his  body  becomes  deficient.  And  because  they  fear 
this,  they  all  keep  their  nails."  x 

Among  the  Baganda  one  of  the  king's  wives  had  to  act 
as  his  hairdresser  ;  she  also  cut  the  king's  nails,  and  took 
care  of  the  hair  and  nail  clippings,  and  stored  them  in  a  house 
built  for  the  purpose.2  Among  the  Nilotic  Kavirondo  after 
the  birth  of  a  child  "  when  the  new  moon  appears,  the  parents 
shave,  and  bathe  their  heads,  taking  care  to  keep  separate  the 
hair  which  is  cut  off.  This  hair  is  hidden  away  in  some  place 
near,  by  preference  in  a  rat-hole  or  in  some  hole  where  it  is 
not  likely  to  be  found  again."  8  Among  the  Hausa  of  West 
and  North  Africa  "  a  man  will  not  have  his  hair  shaved  in  the 
presence  of  any  one  who  owes  him  a  grudge.  After  his  hair 
has  been  cut,  he  will  look  around,  and  if  there  is  no  enemy 
about  he  will  mix  his  cuttings  with  those  of  other  men  and 
leave  them,  but  if  he  fears  some  one  there  he  will  collect  the 
cuttings,  and  take  them  secretly  to  some  place  and  bury  them. 
With  a  baby  this  is  said  to  be  unnecessary,  as  he  has  no 
enemies — a  surprising  statement.  Nails  are  always  cut  with 
scissors,  and  they  are  always  buried  in  secret.1' 4  The  Boloki 
of  the  Upper  Congo  always  hide  the  parings  of  their  nails 
and  the  clippings  of  their  hair,  because  these  might  be  used 
for  their  hurt  by  enchanters.6  For  a  similar  reason  the 
Bakongo  of  the  Lower  Congo  always  bury  the  clippings  of 
the  hair  and  the  parings  of  their  nails,  because  they  believe 
that  if  an  enemy  got  hold  of  them  he  could  quickly  do  them 
to  death  by  mixing  some  of  these  relics  with  their  food.6 

Among  the  Malagese  or  natives  of  Madagascar  the  first 

1  E.  Littmann,  Publications  oj  the          4  A.  J.  N.  Tremearne,  The  Ban  of 
Princeton    Expedition    to  Abyssinia,      the  Bori,  p.  57. 
vol.  n.  (Leyden,  1910),  pp.  312  and         4  j     H     Weeks>    Amonf   €ongo 

S1^-  Cannibals,  p.  272. 

a  J.  Roscoe,  The  Baganda,  p.  85.  *     ' 

3  J.  Roscoe,  The  Northern  Bantu,          6  J.  H.  Weeks,  Among  the  Primi* 
pp.  2$2  s?.  live  Bakongo,  p.  238* 


cutting  of  a  child's  hair  is  a  solemn  ceremony,  which  may  be 

performed  at  any  time  from  soon  after  birth  up  till  the  age 

of  five  or  six  years,  according  to  the  usage  of  the  different 

peoples.     It  is  always  accompanied  by  prayers  to  God  and 

to  the  ancestral  spirits,  and  by  feasts  in  which  all  the  members 

of  the  family  take  part.     Among  all  the  peoples,  except  those 

who  defer  the  ceremony  for  five  or  six  years,  the  hair  cut 

from  the  left  side  of  the  child  are  regarded  as  faditra>  that 

is,  as  connected  to  the  child  by  sympathetic  magic,  so  that 

they  can  influence  him  for  good  or  eviL     The  hairs   are 

carefully  buried  or  thrown  into  running  water,  or  are  deposited 

at  'a  distance  in  some  desert  place,  that  no  sorcerer  may 

procure  them  and  use  them  to  compose  a  philtre  for  the 

purpose  of  injuring  the  child.     On  the  other  hand,  the  hairs 

cut  from  the  right  side  of  the  child  are  sacrificed  to  God  and 

to  the  ancestors,  for  the  purpose  of  obtaining  the  divine  favour 

for  the  child.1     When  the  Lamas  in  Tibet  shave  their  heads 

they  carefully  preserve  the  shorn  hair  and  hide  it  in  a  hole  in 

the  wall ;  for  if  they  were  to  lose  it  they  believe  that  some 

great  evil  would  overtake  them.2 

Another  bodily  relic  through  which  a  person  can  be 
magically  injured  is  his  spittle.  Hence  precautions  have  to 
be  taken  to  guard  the  spittle  against  the  arts  of  the  sorcerer. 
For  this  reason  the  Baganda  were  careful  to  cover  up  their 
spittle  with  earth  so  as  to  leave  no  trace  of  it  behind.3 
Speaking  of  the  natives  of  the  Mekeo  district  in  British  New 
Guinea,  a  missionary  tells  us  :  "  Accusations  of  such  magic 
were  extremely  common  in  the  Mekeo  district  on  the  south 
coast  some  fifteen  years  ago.  As  examples  of  the  kind  of 
material  used  I  may  mention  that  a  fragment  or  two  of  a 
woman's  grass  petticoat,  or  the  fibrous  part  of  a  piece  of 
sugar-cane  after  it  had  been  chewed  and  spat  out,  are  very 
commonly  used.  I  remember  once  chewing  some  sugar- 
cane in  an  unfriendly  village  and  a  very  loyal  village  police- 
man from  Waiuan  village,  on  the  north-east  coast,  simply 
insisted  on  the  collection  and  hiding  of  the  fibrous  material 
I  spat  out.  He  feared  that  the  unfriendly  village  people, 

1  A.    and    G.    Grandidier,    Ethno-      Tonkin    to    India    (London,    1898), 
graphie  de  Madagascar^  iv.  292.  p.  234. 

2  Prince    Henri    d'Orleans,    From          s  J.  Rosroe,  The  Baganda,  p.  344. 

xxil  TABOOED  THINGS  267 

who  had  deserted  their  village  on  our  approach,  would  be 
able  to  do  me  harm  if  they  found  such  material."  *  In  New 
Britain  and  New  Ireland  "  the  natives  always  blow  the 
spittle  from  the  mouth  in  a  fine  spray  lest  it  should  be 
gathered  up  by  anyone  and  used  for  the  purposes  of  sorcery."  2 
For  the  same  reason  no  Maori  would  spit  in  the  presence  of 
any  person  whom  he  suspected  of  a  wish  to  injure  him, 
because  he  feared  that  his  enemy  might  use  the  spittle  to 
bring  down  upon  him  the  anger  of  an  ancestral  spirit, 
especially  of  a  child  spirit,  for  the  spirits  of  dead  children 
were  believed  to  be  particularly  mischievous.3 

"  The  saliva  of  the  king  of  Hawaii  was  carefully  pre- 
served in  a  spittoon,  in  the  edges  of  which  were  set  the  teeth 
of  his  ancestors.  Should  his  enemies  get  possession  of  any 
of  it,  they  were  supposed  to  have  the  power  to  occasion  his 
death,  by  sorcery  and  prayer."  4  Speaking  of  Tamaahmaah, 
king  of  Hawaii,  a  voyager  in  the  early  part  of  the  nineteenth 
century  tells  us  that  "  the  bearer  of  his  spitting-tray  does  not 
quit  him  a  moment,  as  he  always  holds  the  tray  ready,  which 
is  made  of  wood,  in  the  form  of  a  snuff-box,  and  provided 
with  a  lid,  which  is  opened  when  the  king  intends  to  make 
use  of  it,  and  then  immediately  closed.  This  careful  preserva- 
tion of  the  royal  saliva,  is  in  consequence  of  a  superstition 
that  so  long  as  they  are  in  possession  of  this  treasure  their 
enemies  are  not  able  to  send  him  any  sickness  by  conjuration."  5 

Among  the  things  which  many  primitive  people  regard 
with  fear  as  magically  potent,  and  therefore  dangerous,  are 
knots.  Accordingly  it  is  sometimes  prescribed  that  a  sacred 
person  shall  have  no  knots  in  his  garments,  and  the  same 
taboo  is  observed  by  women  at  certain  times.  Thus  knots 
fall  under  the  class  of  things  which  are  often  tabooed.  The 
underlying  idea  seems  to  be  that  the  physical  constriction 
of  the  knot  exerts  a  magical  constriction  on  the  person  of  the 
wearer.6  Thus,  for  example,  among  the  Baganda,  when  a 

1  W.  M.  Strong,  "  Some  Personal  4  ].].-$xrve&>HistoryoftheHawai- 

Experiences  in  British  New  Guinea,"  tan   or   Sandwich   Islands    (Boston, 

in  Journal  of  the  Royal  Anthropo-  1843),  p.  197- 

logical  Institute,  xlix.  (1919)  P-  293-  t  Otto  von  Kotzebue,  A  Voyage  of 

Rev.  George  Brown  in  a  letter  to  Discovery  (London,  1821),  i.  313. 
me  dated  7th  May  1912. 

3  E.  Shortland,  Maori  Religion  and  6  See  Taboo  and  the  Perils  of  the 

Mythology,  p.  31.  Soul, 


certain  medium  was  accused  of  having  spoken  against  the 
king  by  command  of  the  gods,  he  was  bound  and  brought 
before  the  offended  king.  When  the  king  asked  him  to 
repeat  the  oracle  which  he  professed  to  have  received  from  the 
gods,  the  man  refused  to  do  so  while  he  was  bound,  saying 
that  it  was  contrary  to  custom  to  bind  a  medium  or  medicine- 
man.1 Among  the  Bakongo  of  the  Lower  Congo  River  when 
a  fetish  or  charm  has  been  made  for  the  protection  of  a  town 
or  village  "  there  is  one  prohibition  that  must  be  scrupulously 
observed — nothing  tied  in  a  bundle  may  enter  the  town,  or 
the  charm  will  become  non-effective.  Women  returning 
with  firewood  must  untie  the  bundle  before  reaching  the 
4  town  charm  '  ;  men  with  bundles  of  grass  for  thatching 
must  unfasten  them ;  carriers  with  loads  must  loosen  the 
cords,  or  make  a  wide  detour  ;  and  people  must  remove 
their  girdles  or  belts."  2 

It  is  a  common  belief  that  a  knot  on  the  garment  of  a 
woman  in  childbed  would  retard  or  prevent  her  delivery  and 
that  the  presence  of  a  lock  in  the  room  would  have  the  same 
effect.     Hence  among  the  Ibibio  Efik  people  of  Southern 
Nigeria  it  is  customary  to  untie  all  knots  and  open  all  locks 
in  a  house  where  a  woman  is  in  childbed.     "  A  case  was 
related  of  a  jealous  wife,  who,  on  the  advice  of  a  witch  doctor 
versed  in  the  mysteries  of  her  sex,  hid  a  selection  of  pad- 
locks beneath  her  garments,  then  went  and  sat  down  near  the 
sick  woman's  door  and  surreptitiously  turned  the  key  in  each. 
She  had  previously  stolen  an  old  waist-cloth  from  her  rival, 
which  she  knotted  so  tightly  over  and  over  that  it  formed  a 
ball,  and,  as  an  added  precaution,  she  locked  her  fingers 
closely  together  and  sat  with  crossed  legs,  exactly  as  did  Juno 
Lucina  of  old  when  determined  to  prevent  the  birth  of  the 
infant  Hercules."  8    Among  the  Malagese  when  a  woman  is 
in  hard  labour  all  the  women  about  her  are  enjoined  to  untie 
or  unbutton  their  garments  as  a  means  of  facilitating  the 
delivery.4    A  pregnant  Hindoo  woman  may  not  wear  a  knot 
in  her  dress  at  the  point  where  it  is  fastened  round  her  waist.5 

1  J.  Roscoe,  The  Baganda,  p.  227.          4  A.   and  G.   Grandidier,  op.  rit. 

*  J.  H.  Weeks,  Among  the  Primi-  p,  261 
five  Bakongo,  pp.  220  sq. 

3  D.  A.  Talbot,  Woman's  Mysteries         *  W.  J.  Wilkins,  Modern  Hindmsm, 

oj  a  Primitive  People ',  p.  22.  p.  5. 




Among  the  Malays  at  a  childbirth  "  all  locks  on  door  or 
box  are  opened,  the  sufferer's  hair  is  unbound,  and  any  knot 
in  her  clothes  is  untied."  x  Among  the  Looboos,  a  primitive 
tribe  of  Sumatra,  while  a  birth  is  taking  place  all  chests  and 
boxes  must  be  open,  and  the  clothes  and  hair  of  the  woman 
must  hang  loose.2  So  among  the  Kooboos,  a  primitive  abori- 
ginal race  in  the  south-east  of  Sumatra,  when  a  woman  remains 
in  the  house  to  bring  forth,  and  the  birth  is  difficult,  all  doors 
and  chests  in  the  house  are  opened,  and  the  same  custom  is 
observed  by  the  ordinary  natives  of  Sumatra.3  Among  the 
Toradyas  of  Bada  in  Central  Celebes,  when  a  birth  is  taking 
place,  everything  that  can  be  opened  or  loosened,  including 
the  band  of  the  betel-bag,  the  trouser-band,  chests,  windows, 
and  so  forth,  is  opened  or  loosened,  in  the  belief  that  this  will 
facilitate  the  delivery.*  Ideas  and  customs  of  the  same  sort 
are  not  unknown  in  Scotland.  In  the  county  of  Fife,  at  a 
birth,  when  the  labour  was  long  and  tedious,  an  old  woman 
would  often  open  the  door  of  the  chamber  of  the  woman  by 
way  of  helping  the  delivery.5 

But  in  magic  the  obstructive  power  of  knots  may  be 
turned  to  good  account  by  opposing  the  inroad  of  disease  or 
otherwise  hindering  an  undesirable  consequence.  In  short, 
knots  may  have  their  beneficent  use.  Thus  among  the 
Brahuis  of  Baluchistan  "  as  for  the  fever  that  comes  on  every 
other  day,  we  treat  it  at  first  like  any  other  fever.  But  if  it 
clings  to  the  man,  we  go  to  one  that  was  born  a  twin,  and 
give  him  a  blue  thread,  and  bid  him  knot  it  in  five  or  seven 
places.  And  the  knotted  thread  is  hung  round  the  sick  man's 
neck,  and  keeps  the  fever  at  a  distance."  fl  In  the  north- 
eastern part  of  British  New  Guinea,  near  the  river  Magavara, 
the  natives  have  some  fear  of  attending  a  festival  where  there 
is  a  great  gathering  of  people,  because  they  think  that  among 

1  R.  O.  Winstedt,  Shaman,  Saiva, 
and  Sufi,  p.  1 21. 

2  J.    Kreemer,    "  De    Loeboes    in 
Mandating,"    in    Bijdragen    tot    de 
Ta<xl-t    Land'    en    Volkenkunde   van 
Nederlandsch-Indie,   Ixvi.    (1912)    p. 


3  G.  J.  van  Dongen, "  De  Koeboes," 

in  Bijdragen  tot  de  TaaZ-,  Land-  en 
Volkenkunde  van  Nede'r lands ch- Indie, 

vol.  Ixiii.,  (1910)  p.  231. 

4  A.  C.  Kruijt,  "  Het  landschap 
Bada  in  Midden-Celebes,"  in  Tijd- 
schrift  van  het  Jfconinklijk  Neder- 
landsch  Aardrijkskundig  Genootschap, 
Deel  xxvi.  (Leiden,  1909)  pp.  375  sg. 

6  County    Folk-Lore^     vii.,    Fife, 

P-  395- 

6  Denys  Bray,  The  Life  History  of  a 

Brakui,  p.  1 06. 


2?o  TABOOED  THINGS  CHAP,  xxii 

them  there  may  be  sorcerers  who  will  do  them  a  mischief. 
Still,  they  say  "  if  you  do  go  it  is  well  to  be  forearmed,  and  so 
get  some  friend  who  knows  how  to  do  it  to  tie  knots  in  your 
hair  as  a  preventive  against  charms,  and  some  thongs  round 
your  ankles  and  knees  and  wrists,  so  that  the  spirits  are 
blocked  and  cannot  get  into  your  body  and  do  mischief."  1 
The  Toradyas  of  Central  Celebes  attribute  an  obstructive 
power  to  knots,  which  they  sometimes  employ  for  a  helpful 
purpose.  At  a  feast  when  buffaloes  are  slaughtered  and  eaten 
they  sometimes  tie  knots  in  palm  leaves  to  prevent  the  flesh 
of  .the  victims  from  diminishing  too  rapidly.2  In  Mon- 
ferrato,  a  district  of  Piedmont,  to  cure  a  sprained  ankle 
"  the  foot  is  tied  with  a  thread  which  has  never  been  used 
before,  whilst  the  healer  says  in  an  undertone,  '  Diau  porta 
via  vi  mal '  (Devil  take  away  the  ill).  The  best  result  will  be 
obtained  if  silk  is  used,  and  sometimes  three  knots  are  tied."  3 

1  H.  Newton,  In  Far  New  Guinea,     cit.  ii.  176. 

p.  158.  3  E.     Canziani     and    E.     Rohde, 

8  N.  Adrian!  and  A.  C.  Kruijt,  op.     Piedmont  (London,  1913),  p.  143. 



UNABLE  to  distinguish  clearly  between  words  and  things,  a 
savage  commonly  regards  his  name  as  a  vital  part  of  himself, 
and  thinks  consequently  that  he  can  be  injured  magically 
through  it,  as  well  as  through  his  hair,  his  nails,  or  other  parts 
of  his  body.  Hence  he  is  often  very  cautious  about  uttering 
his  own  name,  or  allowing  others  to  do  so.  Thus  among  the 
Barundi,  to  the  west  of  Lake  Victoria  Nyanza,  people  are 
very  unwilling  to  tell  their  own  names  or  those  of  their  children 
to  strangers,  lest  the  strangers  through  knowing  the  names 
might  exert  magical  power  over  the  bearers  of  the  names,  and 
bring  harm  down  upon  them.1  The  Bangala  of  the  Upper 
Congo  think  that  the  eyesight  of  ghosts  is  defective,  but  that 
their  hearing  is  very  keen.  Hence  a  man's  name  was  never 
mentioned  while  he  was  fishing,  for  fear  the  ghosts  might  hear 
and  deflect  the  fish  from  his  nets  and  traps.2  Among  the 
Ila-speaking  peoples  of  Northern  Rhodesia,  "  a  person  is  not 
allowed  to  speak  his  own  name.  This  is  particularly  the  case 
in  the  presence  of  older  people.  For  any  one  sacrilegiously 
to  pronounce  his  name  in  their  presence  would  be  a  serious 
fault.  They  might  sell  him  up,  make  him  a  slave,  or  drive 
him  out  of  the  community,  unless  his  clansmen  redeemed 
him.  ...  If  you  ask  a  person  his  name  he  will  turn  to  another 
and  ask  him  to  tell  you.  Nowadays  they  are  getting  accus- 
tomed to  being  asked  their  names  by  Europeans,  who  insist 
upon  a  man  speaking  for  himself,  but  they  get  out  of  the 

1  H.  Meyer,  Die  Barundi,  p.  112.        Congo  River,"  in  Journal  of  the  Royal 
*  J.  H.  Weeks,   "  Anthropological     Anthropological  Institute,  zl.  (1910) 
Notes  on  the  Bangala  of  the  Upper     p.  372. 


difficulty  by  making  up  impromptu  names  for  the  occasion, 
or  they  take  advantage  of  the  grotesque  names  given  them  by 
European  employers.  ...    A  man  may  not  pronounce  his 
wife's  name,  at  any  rate  unless  and  until  she  has  borne  him 
children  ;  nor  his  father's  nor  his  mother's,  nor  the  names  of 
his  parents-in-law,  nor  those  of  his  bakwe>  i.e.  the  brothers 
and  sisters  of  his  parents-in-law,  nor  those  of  the  brothers  and 
sisters  of  his  wife,  nor  the  name  of  his  uncle.  ...     A  woman 
must  observe  similar  rules  ;  and  she  calls  her  husband  by  his 
champi  names,  or  addresses  him  as  Munaisha.     The  reason 
for  these  taboos  is  that  by  pronouncing  a  name  you  may  bring 
misfortune  upon  the  person  or  upon  yourself.     It  is  the  same 
motive  which  forbids  people  staying  in  the  village  to  speak  by 
name  of  people  away  on  business .     An  absent  hunter  may  only 
be  referred  to  as  Shimwisokwe  ('  he  who  is  in  the  veld  ')  ; 
a  warrior  as  Shilumamba  ('  the  warrior  ')  or  Shimpi  ('  the 
fighter  ')  ;    a  fisherman  as  Shimulonga>  '  the  river  man,'  a 
merchant  as  Mwendo  ('  the  trader  ').     Were  you  to  mention 
the  name  of  any  of  these,  accidents  would  befall  them.  .  .  . 
Not  only  must  one  refrain  from  speaking  the  names  we  have 
mentioned,  but  one  must  avoid  speaking  of  things  by  their 
names  when  those  names  bear  a  close  resemblance  to  the 
persons'  names."  x    The  Bushmen  of  the  Kalahari  desert  in 
South-West  Africa  "  have  an  extensive  range  of  terms  of 
relationship  among  themselves.     Some,  but  not  all,  of  these 
are  connected  with  taboos,  as,  for  example,  a  mother-in-law 
must  not  see  her  son-in-law  or  mention  his  name  unless  it  is 
absolutely  unavoidable.     He  on  his  side  must  not  see  her  or 
mention  hers.    A  man's  wife  must  avoid  mentioning  the 
name  of  her  husband  or  any  of  his  blood  relations.     To  do 
so  would  be  unlucky.     It  thus  happened  that  a  man  had  a 
name  given  to  him  at  the  time  of  his  initiation  which  was  used 
by  his  wife  and  relations,  while  his  real  name  was  known  only 
to  himself  and  his  parents,  who  never  used  it  when  speak- 
ing to  him.     This  secret  name  was  only  revealed  to  him  after 
his  initiation."  *     In  certain  provinces,  or  rather  in  certain 
families,  of  Madagascar,  a  person  is  forbidden  to  pronounce 
his  or  her  own  name,  on  pain  of  incurring  some  great 

1  £.  W.  Smith  and  A.  M.  Dale,  op.         *  S.  S.  Dornan,  Pygmies  and  Busk- 
fit.  i.  367  sg.  men  of  the  Kalahari,  pp.  161 

xxm  TABOOED  WORDS  273 

evil.1  The  Toradyas  of  Central  Celebes  are  very  unwilling 
to  mention  their  own  names,  the  names  of  their  parents  and 
chiefs,  and  above  all  the  names  of  their  parents-in-law. a 
Among  the  natives  of  British  New  Guinea  "  there  is  a  marked 
reluctance  to  mention  the  individual  name  of  any  person  re- 
lated by  marriage,  and  in  their  intercourse  the  natives  never 
do  so.  At  every  marriage  they  make  at  least  a  tacit  agreement 
to  discontinue  using  the  personal  names  in  such  cases,  and  at 
times  this  is  confirmed  by  means  of  the  karea-rite.  There  is  a 
similar  reluctance  to  tell  a  person's  own  name.  In  both  cases 
it  often  happened,  when  I  asked  some  man  for  a  name  he 
ought  not  to  pronounce,  that  he  would  turn  to  somebody  else 
present,  requesting  him  to  say  it.  It  was  impossible  for 
me  to  get  the  native  explanation  of  this  avoidance  ;  the 
only  answer  I  obtained  was  that  the  people  were  c  shame  '  to 
utter  the  names  of  persons  with  whose  daughter  or  sister  they 
were  holding  sexual  intercourse."  3  In  British  New  Guinea, 
"  Fifteen  years  ago  the  Port  Moresby  native  was  very  un- 
willing to  tell  you  his  name.  He  always  got  a  friend  to  tell 
you  his  name.  Possibly  there  was  some  magical  idea  at  the 
back  of  this.  The  name  and  the  individual  are  closely  iden- 
tified in  native  thought.  At  the  present  time  names  are 
given  without  much  reluctance."  4 

Among  the  Kai  of  Northern  New  Guinea  etiquette  forbids 
a  man  to  ask  another  to  mention  his  own  name.  Such  a 
question  would  greatly  embarrass  the  person  addressed. 
Parents-in-law  and  children-in-law  may  not  mention  each 
others'  names,  and  men  who  have  gone  through  the  ceremony 
of  initiation  together  may  not  mention  each  other's  names. 
A  person  who  has  uttered  one  of  these  forbidden  names  is 
believed  to  run  the  risk  of  dying  by  consumption.  And  he 
must  atone  for  his  offence  by  paying  the  person  whom  he  has 
named  a  fine,  consisting  of  a  spear,  or  a  pot,  or  something  of 
the  kind.5  In  Mala,  one  of  the  South-East  Solomon  Islands, 
"  when  a  man  is  asked  his  name  he  seldom  gives  a  direct 
answer.  If  someone  else  is  present  he  will  turn  towards  him 

1  A.   and   G.  Grandidier,   op.  rit.          *  W.  M.  Strong,  "  Some  Personal 
p.  303.  Experiences  in  British  New  Guinea," 

2  N.  Adriani  and  A.  C.  Kruijt,  op.  in  Journal  of  the  Royal  Anthropo- 
cit.  ii.  67.  logical  Society^  xlix.  (1919)  p.  297. 

1  G.  Landtman,  op.  cit.  p.  176.  fi  R.  Neuhauss  op.  cit.  iii.  46. 


and  either  say,  'You/  or  else  a  mere  look  will  suffice  and  the 
other  person  says  the  name.  ...  To  say  one's  name  is  to 
put  one's  self  in  another  person's  power.  My  name  is  myself. 
The  question, '  What  is  your  name  ?  '  is  rendered  not '  What ' 
but '  Who  '  (after  the  idiomatic  use),  where  personality  is  the 
dominant  thought."  1  In  Siberia  "  every  Yakut  bears  two 
names,  and  is  never  called  by  the  right,  except  in  cases  of 
necessity  ;  thus  they  think  they  evade  the  search  of  the  evil 
spirits  bent  on  tormenting  them."  2 

In  not  a  few  savage  tribes  parents  are  named  after  their 
children,  not  children  after  their  parents,  the  husband  being 
called  "  the  father  of  So-and-So  "  and  his  wife  "  the  mother 
of  So-and-So."  Thus,  for  example,  among  the  Toradyas 
of  Central  Celebes,  the  father  is  named  "  the  father  of 
So-and-So  ",  and  the  mother  is  called  "  the  mother  of  So- 
and-So."  Lads,  less  often  girls,  are  named  after  nephews 
or  nieces,  or  after  slave  children  or  imaginary  persons. 
When  a  child  has  grown  up,  the  father  is  no  longer  named 
after  it,  but  after  a  younger  child.  When  all  the  children  are 
grown  up,  the  parents  are  named  after  their  grand-children. 
This  change  of  name  is  called  "making  one's  self  young." 
A  man  who  had  lost  four  children  named  himself  grand- 
father of  the  fifth  in  order  to  deceive  the  spirits  into  thinking 
that  he  had  no  child.3 

Among  the  Klemantan  of  Borneo  "  after  the  naming  of 
a  couple's  first  child  the  parents  are  always  named  as  father 
and  mother  of  the  child ;  e.g.,  if  the  child's  name  is  Obong, 
her  father  becomes  known  as  Tama  Obong,  her  mother  as 
Inai  Obong,  and  their  original  names  are  disused  and  almost 
forgotten,  unless  needed  to  distinguish  the  parents  from  other 
persons  of  the  same  name,  when  the  old  names  are  appended 
to  the  new."  *  So  among  the  Kayans,  another  tribe  of  Borneo, 
the  name  which  a  child  receives  is  borne  by  him  until  he 
becomes  a  father,  when  he  resigns  it  in  favour  of  the  name 
given  to  his  child,  with  the  title  of  Taman  (or  father)  prefixed, 
while  the  mother  takes  the  name  of  her  child  with  the  title 

1  W.  G.  Ivens,  Melanesians  of  the      1802),  p.  125. 

South- East  Solomon  Islands,  p.  u.  3  N.  Adriani  and  A.  C.  Kruijt,  op. 

2  M.  Sauer,  An  Account  of  a  Geo-      cit.  ii.  67  sq, 

graphical  and  Astronomical  Expedi-          *  C.  Hose  and  Wm.  McDougall,  The 
tion   to   Northern    Russia   (London,       Pagan  Tribes  of  North  Borneo,  i.  So. 

xxni  TABOOED  WORDS  275 

Tinan  or  mother  prefixed.1  Similarly  among  the  Kuki 
Lushai,  a  tribe  of  Assam,  "  on  the  birth  of  a  child  the  name 
to  be  given  is  settled  upon,  not  by  the  parents,  but  by  the 
elders  of  the  community.  Subsequent  to  the  birth  the  father 
and  mother  drop  their  own  names,  and  are  addressed  by 
that  borne  by  their  offspring,  the  terms  for  father  and 
mother  being  affixed  :  thus,  '  so-and-so's  father, '  ( so- 
and-so's  mother.'  "  2  Similarly,  among  the  Kachcha  Nagas, 
another  tribe  of  the  same  region,  when  parents  have  a  child  they 
drop  their  own  names  and  take  that  of  their  offspring,  with 
the  title  of  father  or  mother  prefixed.3  The  Barotse  of  South 
Africa  "  have  family  names.  Each  individual  has  a  name 
of  his  own,  and  they  add  a  kind  of  inverted  surname,  derived 
from  their  children.  A  man  is  called  Ra  (father  of)  and  a 
woman  Ma  (mother  of),  with  the  name  of  the  child  added."  4 
But  we  are  not  told  that  among  the  Barotse  parents  drop  their 
own  names  after  the  birth  of  a  child. 

Elsewhere  I  have  suggested  that  the  custom  of  naming 
parents  after  their  children  is  based  on  the  common  reluctance 
of  a  person  to  utter  his  or  her  name,  lest  a  sorcerer  or  evil 
spirit  should  hear  it,  and  by  means  of  it  work  evil  on  the 
owner  of  the  name.  In  favour  of  this  view  I  would  point 
out,  first,  that  among  the  Kuki  Lushais,  who  practise  the  cus- 
tom of  naming  parents  after  their  children,  there  is  a  strong 
and  general  dislike  of  all  persons  to  mention  their  own  names,5 
and  second,  that  among  the  Yakuts,  as  we  have  seen,  every 
man  keeps  his  real  name  secret,  lest  an  evil  spirit  should  learn 
it,  and  so  be  able  to  harm  the  owner  of  the  name.  The  custom 
of  naming  parents  after  their  children  can  hardly  have 
originated,  as  has  sometimes  been  thought,  in  a  transition 
from  female  to  male  kinship,  since  it  takes  account  of  the 
mother  equally  with  the  father. 

We  have  seen  that  in  primitive  society  people  are  often 
unwilling  to  mention  not  only  their  own  names,  but  also 
those  of  their  relations  by  marriage,  including  their  own 

1  Ibid.  ii.  161.  of  the  Kachcha  Naga  (Shillong,  1885), 

*  C.  A.  Soppitt,  Short  Account  of      ^'J^V    ^    ,     ^,        T,         .     „ 

the    Kuki.Lushai    Tribes    (Shillong,       J  F"  £ede'  ^/""J*  S*°*** 
88  s         6  l  Sl      Africa  (London,  1898),  p.  76. 

I357J,  p.  10.  5  j    Shakespearj  The  Lushei 

1  C.  A.  Soppitt,  A  Short  Account      Clans,  p.  19. 



wives.1  Some  further  examples  of  these  curious  taboos  may 
here  be  added,  Among  the  Kwottos  of  Northern  Nigeria 
"  another  form  of  avoidance,  practised  by  married  couples 
throughout  life,  is  the  refraining  from  uttering  each  other's 
personal  names,  whether  in  their  presence  or  absence.  It  is 
explained  that  a  husband  would  be  regarded  as  slighting  his 
wife's  kindred  if  he  were  to  show  her  so  little  respect  as  to 
address  her  familiarly  by  the  birth-name  given  her  by  hei 
own  kindred.  He  therefore  gives  her  a  new  '  marriage- 

name.'  " 

Among  the  Wajagga  of  Mount  Kilimanjaro  relations  by 
marriage  may  not  mention  each  others'  proper  names,  but 
must  refer  to  them  only  indirectly,  or  by  using  the  terms  of 
their  relationship.     A  young  wife  is  particularly  careful  to 
avoid  mentioning  the  names  of  her  husband's  blood  relations. 
In  conversation   a  brother-in-law   and   sister-in-law  use  a 
special  designation  in  referring  to  each  other.     They  call 
each  other  the  "  greased  lead-ring."     If  a  sister-in-law  either 
addresses  her  brother-in-law  or  speaks  of  him  in  conversation 
with  another,  she  refers  to  him  as  "  greased  lead-ring,"  at 
the  same  time  licking  the  thick  lead  ring  which,  like  all 
women  of  the  tribe,  she  wears  on  her  wrist.     Similarly,  when 
a  brother-in-law  is  speaking  to  or  of  his  sister-in-law  he  calls 
her  "  greased  lead-ring,"  and  at  the  same  time  licks  the  part 
of  his  arm  where  women  wear  the  ring.3    Among  the  Wa- 
kamba  or  Akamba  of  Kenya,  a  man  was  until  lately  for- 
bidden to  mention  the  proper  names  of  his  father-in-law  and 
mother-in-law.     If  he  was  asked  to  name  them  he  would 
either  give  false  names,  or  would  give  the  polite  reply,  "  I 
may  not  pronounce  that  name  ;    that  is  taboo  among  the 
Akamba."  4    Among  the  Konde  in  the  north  of  Nyasaland 
a  daughter-in-law  may  neither  see  nor  name  her  father-in- 
law  and  the  avoidance  of  naming  him  has  given  rise  to  a 
special  form  of  women's  speech  among  the  people.     She  may 
not  pronounce  her  husband's  family  name,  not  even  a  part 
of  the  name  which  occurs  in  other  words.     Thus,  for  example, 

™  der     ""*ZS*™Ser>  P-      . 

:r  Wlkon-Haffenden,  The  Red  «  Karasek-Eichhorn,  "  Beitrage  zur 

r        **"*  P<  27  1  *  .Kenntnis  der  Waschambaa/  '  in  Baess- 

G.  Gutmann,  Dichten  und  Denken  lcr-Archivt  i.  (191  1),  pp.  186  sq. 


the  wife  of  Muankenja  may  not  say  mkenja>  which  means 
bachelor.  If  she  wishes  to  say  "  bachelor  "  she  uses  instead 
the  word  kepiki.  So  also  she  may  not  pronounce  any  syllable 
that  reminds  one  of  Muanonda,  because  that  is  also  a  family 
name.  If  a  child  remains  small  and  weak  it  is  said  that  the 
child's  mother  must  certainly  have  pronounced  the  name  of  her 

Among  the  domiciled  Hindoos  in  Baluchistan  "  a  husband 
will  not  call  his  wife  by  name,  nor  will  the  wife  take  the  name 
of  her  husband.  He  addresses  her  as  '  Sethani '  or  '  Wan- 
riani,'  and  the  wife  in  turn  addresses  him  as  '  Seth  '  or 
1  Wanria.'  If  they  have  a  son,  she  calls  the  husband  '  father 
of  so-and-so  '  (naming  the  boy).  This  is  a  matter  in  which 
the  women  are  more  particular  than  the  men."  2 

Among  the  Birhors  of  Chota  Nagpur  in  India,  "  as 
amongst  most  other  tribes  and  castes  of  Chota  Nagpur,  the 
names  of  a  man's  younger  brother's  wife  and  of  his  wife's 
elder  sister  are  taboo  to  the  Birhor,  and  the  names  of  the 
husband's  elder  brother  and  of  a  younger  sister's  husband  and 
a  younger  brother's  wife  are  taboo  to  a  Birhor  woman. 
Even  words  resembling  in  sound  names  of  such  relatives 
may  not  be  uttered.  Thus,  if  the  name  of  a  woman's  hus- 
band's elder  brother  is  Budhu,  she  will  not  call  a  Wednesday 
by  its  proper  name  of  Budh,  but  in  referring  to  a  Wednesday 
she  will  use  some  such  expression  as  '  the  day  after  Tuesday/ 
It  is  believed  that  the  uttering  of  such  a  tabooed  name  is 
sure  to  cause  sickness  or  other  misfortune  to  the  person 
uttering  the  name  or  to  some  one  of  his  or  her  family.  When 
a  Birhor  wants  to  say  something  to  a  younger  brother's  wife 
or  his  wife's  elder  sister  he  may  not  ordinarily  communicate 
directly  with  such  relative,  but  should  communicate  through 
somebody  else  such  as  his  own  wife ;  and  similarly,  when  a 
woman  wants  to  say  something  to  her  husband's  elder  brother 
or  sister  or  her  younger  sister's  husband,  she  should,  if 
possible,  communicate  through  some  third  person.  If  any 
direct  communication  becomes  absolutely  necessary  between 
such  relatives  they  may  talk  without  going  close  to  each  other 

1  Dr.  F.  Ffillebom,  Das  Deutsche         *  Deriys  Bray,  Ethnographic  Swr* 
Njassa-  und  Ruwumba-Gebiet,  Land     vey  of  Baluch istan*  ii,  22  sg. 
und  Leute  (Berlin,  1906),  p.  351. 


and  without  looking  straight  at  each  other's  face.     They  may 
not  sit  on  the  same  mat  nor  even  tread  on  each  other's  shadow." l 

Among  the  Sakai,  a  dwarf  people  of  the  Malay  Peninsula, 
"  the  prohibition  with  regard  to  mentioning  the  names  of  near 
relatives,  either  by  blood  or  marriage,  so  common  in  the 
Malayan  region,  is  also  found  among  some  of  the  Negrito- 
Sakai  and  Sakai-Jakun  tribes,  and  also  among  the  Sakai 
proper.  A  man  of  a  Sakai-Jakun  tribe,  which  was  living 
close  to  Kuala  Tembeling  in  Pahang,  told  me  that  they  were 
forbidden  to  mention  the  names  of  fathers-in-law,  mothers- 
in-law,  brothers-in-law,  or  sisters-in-law  ;  while  a  man  from 
near  Pertang  in  Jelebu,  Negri  Sembilan,  said  that  his  people 
did  not  dare  to  mention  the  names  of  their  fathers,  because 
they  were  afraid  of  being  struck  by  the  indwelling  power 
(daulaf)  of  that  relation.  Among  the  Hill  Sakai  of  Perak 
I  was  informed  that  the  avoidance  of  the  mother-in-law  was 
strictly  observed,  and  that  it  was  not  allowable  to  speak  to  her 
directly,  to  pass  in  front  of  her,  or  even  to  hand  her  anything. 
Among  these  people  there  seems  also  to  be  a  certain  prejudice 
against  a  person  mentioning  his  own  name."  2  Among  the 
Toradyas  of  Central  Celebes  a  man  may  not  utter  the  names 
of  his  wife's  parents,  uncles,  and  aunts,  and  if  their  names  are 
also  common  words  in  the  language,  he  may  not  use  these 
common  words,  but  must  substitute  others  for  them.3 

Among  the  Alfoors  of  Halmahera,  a  large  island  to  the 
west  of  New  Guinea,  the  use  of  substituted  words  occurs  in 
various  circumstances,  and  the  practice  receives  different 
names  according  to  the  circumstances.  Thus  the  name  saali 
is  applied  to  the  principal  use  of  substituted  words,  namely,  the 
use  of  a  different  word  in  order  to  avoid  uttering  the  names  of 
elder  members  of  the  wife's  or  the  husband's  family,  or  words 
which  resemble  such  names  in  their  terminations.  This 
custom  is  very  common.  If,  for  example,  such  a  member  of 
a  family  bears  a  name  meaning  "  land,"  then  in  speaking  of 
land  you  would  use  another  word,  such  as  country,  or  if  his 
name  is  the  same  with  the  word  for  hand,  you  would  call  it 

1  S.   C.   Roy,  The  Birhors^  pp.  136  the  Royal  Anthropological  Institute r, 
sqq*  xlviii.  (1918)  pp.  194  sq. 

2  I.  H.  N.   Evans,   "  Some   Sakai  3  N.  Adrian!  and  A.  C.  Kruijt,  op. 
Beliefs  and  Customs/'  in  Journal  of  cit.  ii.  28. 


upper  arm  ;  if  his  name  means  sand,  you  would  say  desert ; 
if  his  name  means  tooth,  you  would  say  biter ;  if  his  name 
signifies  "  wind  "  you  would  say  "  what  moves  to  and  fro," 
and  so  on.1  In  the  East  Indian  island  of  Ceram,  south  of 
Halmahera,  a  man  may  not  mention  the  real  name  of  his 
wife's  parents,  brothers,  and  sisters  ;  and  similarly  a  woman 
may  not  mention  the  names  of  her  husband's  relations.2 

Among  the  Kiwai  of  British  New  Guinea  "  a  man  may 
not  mention  the  name  of  his  wife's  father,  mother,  elder  sister, 
or  elder  brother,  or  of  any  male  or  female  relative  of  her  father 
and  mother.  The  prohibition  is  reciprocal  as  between 
husband  and  wife,  and  holds  good  when  both  are  members  of 
the  same  tribe."  3  Among  the  Mailu  people  of  British  New 
Guinea  "  there  is  absolute,  strictly  observed  name-avoidance 
between  the  following  kin  :  (i)  mother-in-law  ;  (2)  father-in- 
law  ;  (3)  son-in-law  ;  (4)  daughter-in-law ;  (5)  husband's 
elder  brother ;  (6)  man's  younger  brother's  wife  ;  (7)  girl's 
younger  sister's  husband  ;  (8)  man's  wife's  elder  sister.  But 
the  younger  brother  may  mention  the  name  of  the  elder 
brother's  wife,  or  a  younger  sister  may  mention  the  name  of 
the  elder  sister's  husband.  They  explain  it  thus  :  '  in  the  first 
instance,  she  is  his  eldest  sister,  and  in  the  second  case  he  is 
her  elder  brother.'  "  4  Among  the  Yabim,  another  tribe  of 
Northern  New  Guinea,  persons  related  by  marriage  may  not 
touch  each  other  nor  mention  each  others'  names.  If  the 
son-in-law  mentions  his  father-in-law,  he  does  not  utter  his 
name,  but  speaks  of  him  as  his  father-in-law.  And  conversely 
the  parents-in-law  describe  their  son-in-law  as  their  daughter's 
husband.5  Among  the  natives  of  New  Britain  "  there  are 
many  prohibitions  against  eating  with,  touching,  speaking  to, 
or  calling  by  name  certain  relatives,  such  as  mother-in-law, 
son-in-law,  and  others.  A  native  will  never  speak  of  these  by 
their  names :  they  are  his  nimuan,  that  is,  people  whose  names 
he  is  forbidden  to  mention,  and  with  whom  certain  prohibi- 

1  M.  J.  van   Baarda,   "Nog  iets      p. '134. 

angaande  '  Heer  Pokken '  auf  Hal-  8  W.  N.  Beaver,  Unexplored  New 

mahera,"  in  Bijdragen  tot  de  Taal-t  Guinea,  p.  67. 

Land-   en   Volkenkunde   van   Neder-  *  W.  J.  V.  Saville,  In   Unknown 

landseh-Indie,  Ixvii.  (1913)  p.  58.  New  Guinea^  p.  31. 

2  M.  C.  Schadee,  in  Internationales  *  R.     Neuhauss,     Deutsch     Neu- 
Archwf&r  Ethnographic,  xxii.  (1915)  Guinea^  iii.  426. 


tions  are  connected."1  In  the  Booandik  tribe  of  South 
Australia  a  woman  is  not  allowed  to  mention  the  name  of  her 
son-in-law  as  long  as  he  lives.2 

In  primitive  society,  again,  it  is  very  often  forbidden  to 
mention  the  names  of  the  dead,  probably  in  most  cases  from  a 
fear  of  attracting  the  dangerous  attention  of  the  ghosts  who 
may  be  supposed  to  be  attracted  by  the  familiar  sound  of  their 
own  names.  The  taboo  is  particularly  common  among  the 
aborigines  of  Australia.  Speaking  of  the  aborigines  of  New 
South  Wales,  an  early  voyager  tells  us  that  after  a  death  they 
consigned  the  name  of  the  deceased  to  oblivion,  and  never 
mentioned  it  again.  He  adds  that  "  the  namesake  (Tomelaf) 
of  the  deceased  assumes,  for  a  time,  the  name  of  Bourang, 
which  appears  to  be  the  general  appellation  for  those  in  such 
circumstances,  and  signifies  that  they  are  at  present  destitute 
of  a  name,  their  name-father  being  dead.  This  title  they 
retain  until  they  become  the  namesake  of  another  person."3 
In  the  Andrawilla  tribe  of  East  Central  Australia  the  names 
of  the  dead  are  never  mentioned  ;  it  is  thought  that  the 
deceased  would  never  rest  peacefully  should  his  name  be 
spoken.4  And  indeed  "  everywhere  in  Australia  it  is  the 
custom  among  the  indigenous  people  never  to  mention  the 
name  of  the  person  whose  death  is  being  lamented.  This 
rule  is  so  far-reaching  that  should  there  be  more  than  one 
tribesman  holding  the  same  name,  the  one  surviving  his 
namesake  immediately  changes  his  appellation.  If,  too,  the 
•name  of  the  dead  one  happened  to  be  that  of  an  animal  or 
place,  a  new  word  is  immediately  introduced  in  the  vocabulary 
of  the  tribe  in  place  of  the  former.  Thus  allusion  to  the  dead 
man's  name  is  entirely  avoided.  The  reason  for  this  strange 
custom  is  that  the  tribespeople  want  the  spirit  of  the  departed 
not  to  be  molested  ;  by  calling  aloud  the  name  of  one  who  has 
gone  beyond,  the  spirit  might  be  persuaded  to  come  back  and 
haunt  the  camp  ;  the  natives  are  in  constant  dread  of  this."  * 

Similarly,  concerning  the  very  primitive  but  now  extinct 

1  G.  Brown,  Melanesia,™  and  Poly-  World  (London,  1813),  p.  87. 
nesians,  p.  275.  *  F.  H.  Wells,  in  Fifth  Report  of  the 

*  Mrs.   J.    Smith,    The   Booandik  Australasian  Association  for  the  Ad- 
Tribe  of  South  Australian  Aborigines,  vancement  of  Science  (1893),  p.  519. 
(Adelaide,  1880),  p.  3.  5  H<    Basedow,     The    Australian 
»  J.  Turnbull,^  Voyage  Round  th*  'Aboriginal,  pp.  212  sq. 




aborigines  of  Tasmania,  we  are  told  that  they  had  "  a  fear  of 
pronouncing  the  name  by  which  a  deceased  friend  was  known, 
as  if  his  shade  might  thus  be  offended.  To  introduce,  for  any 
purpose  whatever,  the  name  of  any  one  of  their  deceased 
relatives,  called  up  at  once  a  frown  of  horror  and  indignation 
from  a  fear  that  it  would  be  followed  by  some  dire  calamity."  * 
In  Buin,  one  of  the  Solomon  Islands,  the  old  names  of  the 
dead  are  not  pronounced.  The  deceased  are  known  by  new 
names,  "  names  of  the  other  world,**  which  were  usually 
chosen  by  the  persons  in  their  lifetime.2  The  Kiwai  of 
British  New  Guinea  avoid  mentioning  the  dead  by  their  old 
name,  particularly  the  names  of  those  who  have  died  recently 
and  are  feared  after  death.  They  say  that  this  is  like  calling 
on  the  ghost,  who  might  appear  at  the  call  and  cause  sickness 
among  the  living.3  Among  the  natives  of  Dobu,  an  island  off 
the  South-East  coast  of  British  New  Guinea,  one  cause  of  war 
was  "  naming  the  dead.  The  dead  may  be  named  only  when 
a  mighty  oath  is  taken,  or  by  a  sorcerer  when  all  other 
remedies  to  save  a  sick  man  from  death  have  failed."  4  The 
Yakuts  of  Siberia  never  mention  the  names  of  the  dead,  and 
any  hut  in  which  a  death  has  taken  place  is  left  by  them  to  fall 
into  ruins  as  an  abode  of  demons.5 

In  Africa  the  Barundi,  a  tribe  to  the  west  of  Lake  Victoria 
Nyanza,  never  mention  the  names  of  the  dead,  lest  they  should 
call  back  their  mischievous  ghosts,  and  all  persons  and  things 
bearing  the  same  name  as  the  deceased  have  to  change  them 
for  others.6  So  among  the  neighbouring  Banyankole  when 
a  king  died  his  name  was  never  spoken  again,  and  if  his  name 
happened  to  be  that  of  a  common  object  the  name  of  the  thing 
was  changed  for  that  of  a  new  one.7  Among  the  Bakongo  of 
the  Lower  Congo  "  the  name  of  the  dead  is  tabooed,  and  is 
therefore  never  mentioned,  but  if  it  is  necessary  to  refer  to 
the  deceased  one,  they  call  him  c  old  what's-his-name  '  (nkulu 

1  J.  Barnard,  "  Aborigines  of  Tas- 
mania," in  Second  Report  of  the  Aus- 
tralasian Association  for  the  Ad- 
vancement of  Science  (1890),  p.  605. 

2  R.  Thurnwald,  "  Im  Bismarck- 
archipel,"  in  Zeitschrift  fur  Eth- 
nologie,  xlii.  (1901)  p.  139. 

8  G.  Landtman,  op.  cit.  R.  293. 

*  W.  E.  Bromilow,  "  Some  Man- 

ners and  Customs  of  the  Dobuans  of 
South-East  Papua,"  in  Eleventh  Re- 
port of  the  Australasian  Association 
for  the  Advancement  of  Science  (1907,, 
p.  '470. 

5  M.  Sauer,  op.  cit.  p.  125. 

*  H.  Meyer.  Die  Barundi,  p.  114. 
f  J.  Roscoe,  The  Banyankole^  p.  35. 


nengandi),  or  '  old  Peter  '  (nkulu  Mpetelo),  or '  of  the  name  of 
Peter  J  (ejina  did  Mpetelo).     Any  photographs  of  the  deceased 
are  torn  up,  all  signs  of  him  removed  from  the  house,  and 
every  effort  is  made  to  forget  him."  x    After  a  death  the 
Bushmen  of  the  Kalahari  desert  in  South  Africa  leave  the 
spot  and  never  mention  the  name  of  the  deceased  again.2 
Similarly  the  Bechuanas  of  the  same  region  usually  abstained 
from  ever  mentioning  the  name  of  a  dead  person  lest  his  spirit 
should  be  offended.3     In  most  tribes  of  Madagascar  it  is 
sacrilege  to  pronounce  the  name  of  a  dead  relative,  and  still 
more  the  name  of  a  dead  chief  or  king.     They  fear  that  on 
hearing  the  familiar  name  the  spirit  of  the  deceased  will 
return  among  them,  and  above  all  things  they  dread  any 
contact  with  the  spirits  of  the  dead.     Only  a  sorcerer  would 
dare  to  commit  such  a  sacrilege,  an  offence  punishable  with 
death.     There   are   even   peoples,   such   as  the   Sakalavas, 
among  whom  it  is  forbidden  under  the  severest  penalties  to 
make  use  of  words  in  the  current  language  which  enter  into 
the  names  of  dead  kings  or  which  have  a  similar  sound,  such 
words  being  replaced  by  synonyms  created  for  the  purpose.4 
Under  the  heading  of  tabooed  words  may  be  included  a 
common  prohibition  to  tell  fairy  stories  or  myths  at  certain 
times  and  seasons,  and  particularly  during  the  day.    The 
Berbers  of  North  Africa,  for  example,  will  not  tell  their  fairy 
.stories  during  the  day,  believing  that  if  they  did  so  before 
night  has  fallen  some  great  misfortune  would  befall  the  nar- 
rator or  one  of  his  family.    The  taboo  is  said  to  be  not  confined 
to  the  Berbers,  but  to  be  observed  all  over  the  world  from 
Alaska  to  South  Africa.5     For  example  among  the  Baluba  of 
the  French  Congo  stories  may  not  be  told  in  the  day-time  : 
it  is  a  thing  never  done,  but  they  may  be  told  in  the  evening.6 
In  the  Solomon  Islands  stories  may  not  be  told  by  day,  but 
only  by  night :  if  they  were  told  by  day  it  is  believed  that  the 
hair  of  the  story-teller  would  fall  out.7      Again,  in  Dobu, 

1  J.  H.  Weeks,  Among  the  Primi-      xxiii.  (1912)  p.  348. 

tive  Bakongo,  pp.  248  sq.  6  H.  Basset,   Essai  sur  la  Kttera- 

2  S.  S.  Dornan,  Pygmies  and  Busk-      ture  des  Berberes  (Alger,  1920),  p.  104. 
men  of  the  Kalahari,  p.  145.  «  E.  Torday,  On  the  Trail  of  the 

8  S.  S.  Dornan,  op.  cit.  p.  279.  Buskongo,  p.  41. 

4  G.  Grandidier,  "  La  Mort  ...          7  R.  Thurnwald,  Forschungen  auf 
a  Madagascar,"  in  L* Anthropologie,      den  Salomo-Inselnt  i.  430. 

xxni  TABOOED  WORDS  283 

to  the  south-east  of  New  Guinea,  "  the  telling  of  legends  was 
restricted  to  the  night-time,  under  the  penalty  of  the  narrators 
and  hearers  becoming  fixtures  to  each  other  and  to  the  place 
where  they  were  sitting."  * 

Sometimes  the  names  of  sacred  chiefs  and  gods  are 
tabooed,  and  may  not  be  spoken.  Thus  for  example  in 
Samoa  there  was  a  sacred  chief  named  Pe'a,  which  in  the 
Samoan  language  means  flying-fox.  Hence  the  name  Pe'a 
might  not  be  pronounced  in  the  district  in  which  the  chief 
lived,  still  less  in  his  presence,  and  the  name  for  a  flying  fox 
in  that  district  was  changed  for  another,  which  means  bird  of 
heaven.  Again  at  Matautu  in  Samoa,  neither  the  words  titi 
nor  vave  could  be  used,  because  these  were  the  names  of  two 
gods  in  that  village.  The  former,  which  was  the  name  of  the 
girdle  or  apron  of  ti  leaves  worn  by  all  the  people,  was  changed 
to  noa.  Vave,  which  meant  swiftly,  had  the  synonym  taalise 
substituted  for  it.2  Again  in  Annam  the  people  avoid  men* 
tioning  the  names  of  the  gods,  because  they  think  that  to 
name  them  is  to  evoke  them,  and  to  render  their  presence  real, 
which  is  always  dreaded  by  the  profane.  Thus  it  is  prohibited 
to  pronounce  the  exact  name  of  certain  villages,  since  the  name 
designates  at  the  same  time  the  tutelary  deity  of  the  village.3 

But  in  primitive  society  not  merely  the  personal  names 
of  gods  and  men  are  often  tabooed.  The  same  interdiction 
is  very  frequently  laid  on  the  names  of  common  objects  of 
daily  life  in  certain  circumstances,  and  for  a  certain  time.4 
Hence  when  men  are  engaged  in  certain  special  occupations 
they  are  often  debarred  from  the  use  of  many  common  words, 
lest  the  spirits  should  hear  them  and  frustrate  their  efforts. 
Thus  for  example  when  a  Maori  is  digging  for  a  certain 
tuber  called  perei  he  may  not  mention  the  name  of  the  tuber, 
he  will  call  it  maukuuku,  for  should  he  mention  the  name 
perei  no  roots  would  be  found  by  his  party.  "  In  the  bird- 
snaring  season  should  a  man  mention  that  he  is  going  to 
visit  his  snares  to  take  the  birds  which  have  been  caught,  he 

1  W.  E.  Bromilow,  "  Dobuan  Be-  nesians,  p.  280. 

liefs   and   Folk-lore,"   in    Thirteenth  9  p   Qi         ^     -,  ^  Religion  An- 

Report  of  the  Australasian  Assocta-  ^ 

tion  for  the  Advancement  of  Science  rr   7     * 

(Sydney,  1912),  p.  413.  4  Compare  Taboo  and  the  Perils  oj 

*  G.  Brown,  Melanesians  and  Poly  the  Soul,  pp.  392  sqq. 


will  not  make  use  of  the  word  wetewete  (a  plural  form  of 
wewete,  to  untie),  for  that  would  be  a  puhore>  and  would 
bring  ill-luck.  He  will  use,  in  place  thereof,  the  term 
wherawhera  (a  plural  form  of  whera,  to  open).  Or  should 
the  snarer  be  going  to  look  at  his  waka  or  water  troughs, 
over  which  pigeon  snares  are  set,  he  will  not  use  the  word 
titiroi  '  to  look  at,'  but  substitute  that  of  matai,  that  no 
puhore  may  be  incurred."1  Again  in  sailing  northwards 
the  natives  of  the  Marshall  Islands  avoid  the  use  of  certain 
common  words,  and  substitute  others  in  place  of  them. 
Thus  instead  of  wutt  which  means  rain,  they  say  wajum\ 
instead  of  wa,  which  means  canoe,  they  sayjidon ;  and  instead 
of  mane>  which  means  food,  they  say  kakuronron? 

Among  the  Kiwai  of  British  New  Guinea  when  a  man 
is  waiting  on  the  platform  to  harpoon  dugong,  he  will  not 
call  the  dugong  by  its  proper  name,  for  he  thinks  that  to  do 
so  would  spoil  his  luck,  so  he  calls  the  dugong  a  pig.3    The 
Alfoors  of  Halmahera,  an  island  to  the  west  of  New  Guinea, 
have   a   class  of  substituted  words  called   sirangi^   which 
they  use  in  various  circumstances  instead  of  the  ordinary 
words.     Such  words  are  employed  in  cases  where  to  use  the 
ordinary  words  would  be  deemed  dangerous,  for  instance 
in  making  a  long  sea  voyage,  as  from  Obi  to  Ceram.     Evil 
powers  might  drive  the  mariner  out  of  his  course  ;  hence  he 
tries  to  deceive  them  as  to  the  goal  of  his  voyage.     Thus, 
for  example,  instead  of  "  straight  ahead  "  or  "  forecastle  " 
he  would  say  "  bird's  beak  ;  instead  of  "  right "  or  "  star- 
board "  he  would  say  "  sword  "  ;  and  instead  of  "  larboard  " 
he  would  say  "  shield."     In'  this  way  a  sort  of  "  sea  language  " 
arises.    So  in  other  districts  there  is  a  sort  of  "  forest  language  " 
employed  in  the  search  for  products  of  the  forest  such  as 
dammar  and  camphor  :  in  such  cases  the  searcher  is  careful 
to  avoid  all  the  usual  words  referring  to  the  business  he  has 
in  hand,  in  order  that  he  may  not  be  hampered  by  evil 
influences  in  the  pursuit  of  his  calling.     Hence  in  the  sub- 
stituted words  made  use  of  during  an  attack  of  smallpox, 
as  Mn  van  Ossenbruggen  correctly  remarks,  we  have  to  do 

1  E.  Best,  in  Seventh  Report  of  the         •  P.   A.    Erdland,    Die   Marshall- 
Australasian  Association  for  the  Ad-     Insulaner,  p.  341. 
voncement  of  Science  (1898),  P-  7^9-  *  G.  Landtman,  op.  tit.  p.  132. 

xxni  TABOOED  WORDS  285 

with  the  belief  in  sympathetic  magic,  that  is,  the  belief  that 
the  dreaded  event  is  brought  about  by  simply  naming  it. 
This  belief,  or  rather  superstition,  is  very  strong  among  these 
Alfoors.  "  So  when  I  good-naturedly  warned  heathens  to 
abstain  from  such  and  such  an  evil  course,  lest  a  judgment 
or  visitation  should  overtake  them,  I  saw  that  it  made  a  very 
disagreeable  impression  on  them,  because  they  considered 
that  the  simple  naming  of  the  evil  that  might  overtake  them 
was  as  dangerous  and  as  effective  as  an  attempt  on  my  part 
to  bring  down  the  calamity  upon  them."  The  reason  why 
the  use  of  substituted  words  occurs  almost  only  in  cases  of 
smallpox  is  probably  that  in  these  regions  smallpox  is  the 
most  dreaded  malady  ;  cholera  and  pestilence  have  been 
nearly  or  altogether  unknown.  Hence  smallpox  is  spoken 
of  as  a  king — a  pretty  word  to  hide  an  ugly  thing,  and  yet 
an  appropriate  image,  since  the  disease  visits  district  after 
district,  village  after  village,  like  a  prince  making  a  royal 
progress.  He  who  can  hide  himself  from  the  sickness  is 
supposed  not  to  be  attacked  by  it;  hence  the  people  try 
to  conceal  themselves  in  all  sorts  of  ways.  In  the  villages 
everything  must  be  as  quiet  as  possible.  Fowls,  especially 
cocks,  are  killed  ;  and  dogs  would  also  be  killed,  if  they 
were  not  so  necessary  for  the  chase.  Children  must  be 
kept  quiet ;  if  they  squall,  they  are  beaten.  The  festal  drum 
is  never  heard  in  the  district.  If  anybody  dies,  no  lamentation 
is  heard,  no  shot  is  fired  to  drive  away  the  evil  spirits  from 
the  house  of  death.  In  everything  an  appearance  must  be 
kept  up  as  if  the  population  of  the  village  were  extinct,  so 
that  when  "  King  Smallpox  "  comes  he  may  imagine  that 
there  is  no  one  at  home,  and  that  he  can  therefore  pass  by.1 
The  Sakai  in  the  centre  of  the  Malay  Peninsula  believe  that 
animals  have  souls,  and  consequently  intelligence.  Hence 
"  thev  aborigines  of  the  Ulu  Kinta  think  that  it  is  unlucky  to 
use  the  proper  name  of  an  animal  when  they  are  eating  its 
flesh,  and  substitute  instead  another  appellation  which  is 
often  a  periphrasis  descriptive  of  some  characteristic  of  it. 
Thus  the  bamboo-rat,  which  is  ordinarily  called  takator^  when 

1  M.   J.   van   Baarda,   "  Nog  iets     Land-  en    Volkenkunde  van   Neder* 
aangaande  '  Heer  Pokken  '  auf  Hal-      landsch-Indit,  lacvii.  (1913)  PP-  5* 
muhera,"  in  Bijdragen  tot  de  Taal- 


being  eaten  is  described  as  nyam  awin,  or  '  bamboo  meat '  ; 
the  bear  (to! pus)  becomes  mes  mat  (little  eyes) ;  the  porcupine 
(chekos),  berjalak  (the  thorny  one) ;  the  c  brok '  (or  coconut) 
monkey  (doK],  hoi  wet  or  hoi  ket,  which  is  said  to  mean  c  no 
tail ' ;  and  the  fowl  (manuK)  chep>  which  simply  means '  bird.' " * 
The  Malays  have  a  whole  system  of  tabooed  and  sub- 
stituted words,  based  as  usual  on  the  conception  of  all  Nature 
as  animate  and  sensitive, ,  and  therefore  as  liable  to  resent 
human  intrusion  on  its  domain.     I  will  borrow  the  excellent 
account  of  it  given  by  Mr.  Winstedt :  "  The  Malay  is  afraid 
to  attract  the  spirits  of  beasts.     In  the  jungle  the  dreaded 
tiger  is  c  grandfather.'     On  a  mine  the  elephant,  whose  heavy 
feet  and  roving  trunk  can  undo  the  work  of  puny  men,  must 
be  called  '  the  tall  one,'  the  blundering  water-buffalo  '  the 
unlucky  one/  the  poisonous  snake  '  the  live  creeper.'     In 
Patani    Bay  fishermen   call   a   crocodile  the   '  gap-toothed 
thingummy-bob/  a  goat  or  sheep  the  '  baa-baa,1  a  buffalo 
1  moo,'  a  sea-snake  '  the  weaver's  sword,'  a  tiger  '  stripes,' 
a  monkey  c  Mr.  Long-Tail,'  a  vulture  '  bald-head,'  a  Buddhist 
monk    ( the    yellow    one,1    and    sea-spirits    '  thingummies.' 
Smallpox  is  termed  in  many  places  '  the  complaint  of  the 
good  folk.'     The  mention  of  the  real  name  may  attract  the 
capricious  attention  of  the  lords  of  the  sea,  the  spirit  of  a 
disease,  a  human  ghost,  a  king,  a  mammal  or  a  mother-in- 
law  :  it  may  also  frighten  away  such  elusive  things  as  ore 
in  a  mine  or  camphor  in  a  tree.     So  on  a  tin-mine  the  ore 
must  be  called  'grass-seed*  and  the  metal  'white  stone.' 
Collectors  of  camphor  use  an  elaborate  tabu  vocabulary  of 
aboriginal,  rare  and  artificial  words  :  the  bamboo  is  called 
*  the  drooper/  bananas  '  the  fruit  in  rows,'  bees  '  seeds  on 
branches,'  blood  '  sap,'  a  cat  *  the  kitchen  tiger/  a  fire-fly 
1  a  torch  for  the  eyes/  the  nose  '  the  smeller/  the  jaws  '  the 
chewers/  a  bed  '  the  cuddling-place/  and  so  on.     Not  only 
is  the  name  of  camphor  itself  avoided,  but  no  words  are 
uttered  which  might  lead  the  tree  to  suspect  that  Malays  are 
in  search  of  its  treasures.     So  human  in  anger  and  fear  are 
trees  and  minerals  and  beasts."2 

1  I.  H.  N.  Evans,  "  Some  Sakai     xlviii.  (1918)  p.  181. 
Beliefs  and  Customs,"  id  Journal  of         a  R.  O.  Winstedt,  Shaman,  Saiva, 
the  Royal  Anthropological  Institute,      and  Sufi,  pp.  69  sq. 

xxili  TABOOED  WORDS  287 

The  Lakhers  of  Assam  have  a  similar  system  of  tabooed 
and  substituted  words,  based  on  a  similar  belief  in  the  uni- 
versal animation  of  Nature.  "  As  Lakhers  believe  that  the 
universe  is  peopled  by  spirits  ready  to  harm  man  or  to  seize  his 
possessions,  they  are  afraid  when  travelling  or  in  the  jungle 
to  mention  the  names  of  any  animals  they  own,  lest  the  evil 
spirits  should  hear  what  they  say,  and,  wishing  to  get  pos- 
session of  the  animals,  should  make  the  owners  ill,  in  order 
that  the  animals  may  be  sacrificed  to  them.  Therefore, 
when  referring  to  animals  anywhere,  except  inside  their  own 
houses,  Lakhers  refer  to  them  only  indirectly.  Mithun 
and  cows  are  referred  to  as  grass-eaters  or  rabapa^  goats  are 
referred  to  as  medicine  or  thanghnapa,  because  they  are 
frequently  used  for  sacrifices.  Pigs  are  referred  to  as  sahrang 
(the  animal)  or  angchahritapa  (the  dwellers  below  the  house), 
dogs  are  referred  to  as  lomangbeupa  or  the  eaters  of  scraps 
that  fall  from  men's  meals,  chickens  are  referred  to  as  pavaw 
or  birds.  To  save  themselves  from  falling  into  the  clutches 
of  a  wood-  or  mountain-spirit  when  travelling  in  the  jungle, 
Lakhers,  instead  of  calling  each  other  by  name,  say  '  Eu 
heinaw?  which  means  '  Ho,  brother/  By  such  simple 
devices  does  the  Lakher  think  to  deceive  the  supernatural 
powers."  x  Among  the  Oraons  of  Chota  Nagpur  in  India 
"  there  are  tabus  on  names  of  certain  persons,  animals, 
places,  or  other  things  :  it  is  believed  that  some  names  pro- 
nounced at  certain  times  bring  ill-luck  to  the  person  who 
pronounces  them.  Thus  the  names  of  certain  villages  are 
not  pronounced  by  the  men  of  certain  other  villages  at 
night-time,  for  it  is  believed  that  some  misfortune  will 
befall  the  man  who  does  so.  Similarly  some  people's 
names  are  considered  of  bad  omen  if  pronounced  within 
an  hour  or  so  after  sunrise.  In  the  cases  of  certain 
beasts  and  reptiles,  substitutes  for  their  names  are  used 
at  night.  Thus  a  serpent  is  called  a  'rope/  a  tiger  is 
called  '  the  long-tailed  thing  '  (digha  khola),  a  sheep  is 
called  the  '  wool-covered  thing  '  (khani  chuttf).  These  pro- 
hibitions are  not  attended  with  any  social  consequences  or 
social  disapproval. 

"  2 

1  N.  E.  Parry,   The  Lakhers,  pp.         *  S.  C.  Roy,  The  Oraons  of  Chota 
477  sq.  Nagpur,  p.  361. 


In  Africa  the  Wajagga  of  Mount  Kilimanjaro  believe 
that  the  dangerous  animals  of  their  country  are  sent  by  the 
spirits  of  the  dead  to  attack  them,  and  in  order  to  avoid  the 
danger  in  certain  circumstances  they  abstain  from  calling 
the  creatures  by  their  proper  names  and  adopt  substituted 
names  instead.     When  they  fear  that  an  elephant  is  near  them 
in  the  forest  they  speak  of  the  animal  only  as  the  chieftain, 
they  speak  of  the  lion  as  "  the  Lord  from  below,"  and  they 
refer  to  the  leopard  as  "  rope  "  apparently  on  account  of 
the  lithe  and  supple  body  of  the  beast.     But  they  attempt  to 
work  on  the  feelings  of  the  beasts  in  other  and  less  compli- 
mentary  ways.     Thus   they   call   the   elephant   "  woman's 
bag,"  because  his  hide  is  as  cracked  and  wrinkled  as  a 
woman's  market  bag.     They  think  that,  humbled  by  this 
mode  of  referring  to  him,  the  elephant  will  sneak  shame- 
facedly away.     But  the  lion  and  the  giant  snake  are  some- 
times referred  to  by  the  high-sounding  title  of  "  Lord  of  the 
Underworld."  1     The   Ibibio  of  Southern   Nigeria  extract 
a  magical  medicine  from  a  crocodile,  and  for  this  purpose 
they  hunt  and  seek  to  capture  the  animal ;   but  in  hunting  it 
they  must  abstain  from  mentioning  the  name  of  the  crocodile, 
and  if  only  they  observe  this  taboo  they  can  approach  the 
brute  in  perfect  safety.2    Among  the   Ila-speaking  tribes 
of  Northern  Rhodesia  it  is  a  maxim  that  in  travelling  through 
the  wilderness  you  should  not  speak  of  the  lion  by  his  proper 
name,  but  must  refer  to  him  only  as  Shikunze,  the  outsider, 
or  Kdbwenga  mukando,  the  great  hyena,  for  otherwise  you 
might  bring  the  beast  upon  you.     Further,  in  smelting  iron 
you  should  not  speak  of  fire  as  fire,  but  only  as  "  the  fierce 
one,"  and  when  women  are  threshing  corn  they  may  neither 
drink  water  nor  speak  of  it  by  name  ;    they  must,  if  it  is 
necessary  at  all,  speak  of  it  as  mawa  Leza^  "  that  which  falls 
from  the  sky."  3 

In  primitive  society  a  common  taboo  forbids  people  to 
step  over  things  or  persons  lying  on  the  ground,  because  they 
believe  that  to  do  so  would  exercise  an  injurious  effect  of  some 
sort  on  the  things  or  persons  stepped  over.  Elsewhere  I 

1  8.  Gutmann,  Dichten  und  Denken      Niger ia^  p.  99. 

der  Dschagganeger>  p,  44.  a  E.  W.  Smith  and  A.  M.  Dale,  op, 

1  P.  A.  Talbot,  Life  in  Southern      eit.  i.  368. 

xxni  TABOOED  WORDS  289 

have  illustrated  this  rule  by  examples  :  x  here  I  may  add 
a  few  more  instances  to  conclude  the  subject  of  taboo.  Thus 
among  the  Banyoro  of  Uganda  "  a  potter  is  careful  to  place 
his  pots  when  drying  where  they  shall  not  be  stepped  over 
and  where  no  pregnant  woman  shall  come  near  them. 
Should  either  of  the  above  precautions  be  disregarded,  it  is 
thought  the  pots  will  break  when  being  baked.'1  2  Among 
the  Bakene,  a  small  tribe  of  lake  dwellers  and  fishers  in 
Uganda,  "  when  a  man  is  making  a  new  line  or  net,  his 
father's  wives  must  keep  away  from  him  lest  they  should 
accidentally  step  over  the  materials  of  his  work ;  such  an 
action  would  have  a  disastrous  effect,  as  the  line  or  net 
would  not  catch  thereafter  unless  he  learned  what  had  hap- 
pened and  was  able  to  propitiate  the  spirit  of  the  net  by  an 
offering  of  food  which  he  fastened  to  the  material  where  the 
woman  had  stepped  over  it.  If  this  is  not  done,  they  say 
that  no  net  over  which  a  woman  has  stepped  will  retain  fish, 
they  will  merely  pass  through  its  meshes,  unless  the  spirit 
is  propitiated."  8  In  Loango  it  is  believed  that  if  a  person 
steps  over  a  sleeper  he  thereby  transfers  to  the  sleeper  all  the 
sorrows  and  sufferings  with  which  he  himself  is  afflicted, 
and  that  to  step  over  a  child  is  to  stunt  its  growth,4  Similarly 
the  Merinas  of  Madagascar  believe  that  to  step  over  children 
renders  them  weak  and  puny.6 

The  Wajagga  of  Mount  Kilimanjaro  think  that  if  a  person 
has  stepped  over  the  body  of  another  he  should  at  once  turn 
back  and  leap  over  the  body  in  the  reverse  direction,  thus 
undoing  his  first  action,  but  that  if  he  fails  to  do  so  the  man 
he  stepped  over  will  soon  die*  Among  these  people  if  a  she- 
goat  has  leaped  over  a  man  lying  on  the  ground  it  is  killed, 
and  a  he-goat  which  has  leaped  over  the  body  of  a  woman 
lying  on  the  ground  is  also  killed.  But  if  the  owner  of  the 
animals  wishes  to  keep  them  he  may  do  so  on  condition  of 
leading  them  back  and  causing  them  to  leap  over  again  the 
body  of  the  man  or  woman.6 

1  Compare    The    Golden    Bough :  *  Die  Loango  Expedition,   iii.   2. 

Taboo  and  the  Perils  of  the  Soul,  p.  330. 

pp.  423  sqq.  *  A.   and   6.   Grandidier,   op.  fit. 

8  j.  Roscoe,  The  Northern  Bantu^  p.  289. 

p.  79.  *  B.  Gutmann,  Dichten  undDenke* 

*  J.  Roscoe,  op.  cit.  p.  155.  der  Dschag$aneger,$.  155. 



THE  custom  of  killing  a  divine  king  upon  any  serious  failure 
of  his  bodily  or  mental  powers,  because  such  failure  is  believed 
to  entail  the  failure  of  the  rain  and  the  crops  which  are 
thought  to  be  inseparably  bound  up  with  the  divine  life  of 
the  king,  is  very  common  in  Africa.  Elsewhere  I  have 
adduced  some  examples  ;  l  but  the  evidence  has  since  been 
considerably  extended,  notably  by  the  researches  of  Mr.  P. 
Amaury  Talbot  in  Southern  Nigeria,  and  of  Mr.  C.  K.  Meek 
in  Northern  Nigeria,  and  the  whole  subject  has  been  ad- 
mirably discussed  by  Professor  C.  G.  Seligman  2  in  a  learned 
and  instructive  monograph.  I  shall  take  advantage  of  their 
labours  to  lay  some  of  the  new  evidence  before  my  readers.3 
The  custom  is  of  especial  interest  to  us  in  this  work  because, 
if  I  am  right,  it  furnishes  a  clue  to  the  mysterious  rule  of  the 
priesthood  of  Diana  at  Nemi,  which  obliged  every  priest,  the 
King  of  the  Wood  as  he  was  called,  to  be  slain  in  single 
combat  by  his  successor  in  office.  At  the  outset  I  will  only 
mention  that  the  evidence  for  the  closest  parallel — that  of  the 
Shilluk  kings  on  the  Upper  Nile — which  I  cited  on  informa- 
tion kindly  furnished  me  by  its  discoverer,  my  friend  Dr.  C. 
G.  Seligman,  has  since  been  published  in  full  by  Dr.  Selig- 
man himself,4  and  confirmed  by  the  account  of  a  Catholic 

1  See  The  Golden  Bough,  Part  III., 
The  Dying  God,  pp.  9  sqq. 

2  C.  G.  Seligman,  Egypt  and  Negro 
Africa  (London,  1934). 

3  Some  of  the  new  evidence  has 
already  been  cited  by  me  in  my  com- 
mentary on  the  Fasti  of  Ovid  (Lon- 
don, 1929),  vol.  iii.  pp.  72-87. 

4  C.  G.  Seligman,  The  Cult  of 
Nyaking  and  the  Divine  Kings  of  the 
Shilluk,  General  Science  of  the  Fourth 
Report  of  the  Wellcome  Tropical 
Research  Laboratories  (Khartoum, 
1911).  Cf.  id.,  in  J.  Hastings' 
Encyclopaedia  of  Religion  and  Ethics  > 
xi.  459  sqg.9  s.v.  "  Shilluk,"  Cf.  his 



missionary,  Father  W.  Hofmayr,  who  laboured  among  the 
Shilluk  for  about  ten  years  and  is  familiar  with  their  language 
and  institutions  -1  I  need  therefore  say  no  more  on  that  subject. 

The  Jukun  are  a  tribe  in  Northern  Nigeria  whose  country 
is  situated  in  the  basin  of  the  Benue  River,  an  important 
tributary  of  the  Niger.  Among  them  all  Jukun  chiefs,  how- 
ever minor,  are  regarded  as  being  in  some  measure  incarna- 
tions of  deity,  while  the  Aku  or  king  of  Wukari  is  regarded 
as  the  supreme  incarnation.  It  is  a  common  spying  among 
the  Jukun  that  the  power  of  the  Aku  exceeds  that  of  Chid6 
(the  Jukun  sky-god),  for  a  man  may  incur  the  wrath  of  Chid6 
and  still  continue  to  live,  but  one  who  incurs  the  wrath  of  the 
Aku  dies  that  very  day.2  The  divine  king  is  regarded  as 
having  a  personal  influence  over  the  works  of  Nature  and  his 
primary  function  is  to  secure  for  the  people  a  successful 
harvest.  "  This  is  certainly  his  main  duty.  He  is  not,  and 
apparently  never  was,  expected  to  be  a  leader  of  victorious 
armies,  but  he  is  expected  to  secure  in  his  time  a  regular 
succession  of  rich  harvests,  and  by  his  ability  to  do  so  is 
adjudged  to  be  a  true  son  of  god.  He  is  identified  with  the 
crops,  and  is  addressed  as  Azaiwo  (our  Guinea-corn),  Afyewo 
(our  Ground-nuts)  or  Asoiwo  (our  Beans).  .  .  .  But  to  secure 
a  good  harvest  there  must  be  a  bountiful,  but  not  an  undue, 
supply  of  rain  at  the  proper  times,  and  the  ripening  crops 
must  be  protected  from  the  excessive  winds.  The  king  of 
the  Jukun  is,  therefore,  in  virtue  of  his  deity,  able  to  control 
the  rains  and  the  winds.  A  succession  of  droughts  or  bad 
harvests  is  ascribed  to  his  negligence  or  to  the  waning  of  his 
strength,  and  he  is  accordingly  secretly  strangled. 

"  According  to  Jukun  tradition  the  Jukun  king  was  only 
allowed  to  rule  for  a  period  of  seven  years,  being  put  to  death 
at  any  convenient  time  after  he  had  reached  this  allotted 
span.  .  .  .  No  reason  is  given  to  the  limitation  of  the  period 
of  years  to  seven.  The  number  seven  is  apparently  a  sacred 
number  in  all  Jukun  communities,  based  perhaps  on  an 
ancient  Moon  cult.  But  possibly  the  choice  of  seven  is  due 

volume,  Pagan  Tribes  of  the  Nilotic  178-180. 
Sudan    (London,    1932),    pp.    90-92, 

197-198, 423-428.  *  C.  K.  Meek,  A  Sudanese  King* 

1  W.   Hofmayr,  Die  Shilluk9  pp.  dam,  pp.  121 


to  the  observation  that  famines  seem  to  occur  roughly  at 
intervals  of  seven  years  in  the  Northern  Provinces  of  Nigeria. 
Some  Jukun  state,  however,  that  in  former  times  the  allotted 
span  was  no  more  than  two  years  ;  and  with  this  we  may  com- 
pare the  three  years  or  four  years  traditionally  allowed  to  the 
Yoruba  chiefs  of  Abeokuta  and  Ijebu.  The  Jukun  period 
of  two  years  was  subsequently  extended  to  seven,  it  being 
said  (after  the  extension)  that  if  the  king  were  killed  before 
that  time  his  ghost  would  pursue  his  slayers,  but  that  if  he 
were  killed  at  any  later  time  his  slayers  had  nothing  to  fear. 
We  have  seen  that  there  were  rites  performed  some  six  or 
seven  years  after  the  king  had  been  crowned,  the  object  of 
which  was  to  advance  the  king  to  a  higher  degree  of  sove- 
reignty, or  in  other  words  to  secure  a  prolongation  of  his 
period  of  office.  Kings  might,  therefore,  reign  for  more  than 
seven  years,  and  if  any  credit  can  be  attached  to  the  chron- 
ology of  the  list  of  kings  in  the  various  Jukun  communities, 
it  would  not  appear  that  the  septennial  rule  was  enforced 
during  the  last  two  hundred  years.  Further,  if  we  are  to 
believe  the  concurrent  tradition  that  a  king  who  fell  sick  was 
put  to  death  it  must  have  been  permissible  to  kill  the  king 
before  the  completion  of  seven  years.  It  may  be  assumed 
generally  that  a  popular  king  was  allowed  to  remain  in  office 
so  long  as  he  was  able  to  carry  out  the  daily  liturgy  and  as 
long  as  the  harvests  were  satisfactory,  but  that  at  the  end  of 
seven  years  he  was  subjected  to  an  ordeal  which  obtained  for 
him  a  further  probationary  period.  It  is  possible  that  an 
unsatisfactory  king  met  his  death  during  the  ordeal,  i.e. 
during  the  Ando  ku  rites. 

"  It  is  not  possible  to  give  full  and  accurate  details  of  the 
ritual  of  the  killing  and  burial  of  the  king,  as  these  are  known 
to  only  a  few  officials  ;  or  it  might  be  more  correct  to  say 
that  parts  of  the  ritual  are  known  to  particular  officials,  and 
parts  to  other  particular  officials,  it  being  taboo  and  dangerous 
for  one  official  to  breathe  to  another  a  single  syllable  of  the 
secret  duty  pertaining  to  his  office.  Even  the  king  himself 
is  ignorant  of  some  parts  at  least  of  the  procedure.  The 
following  account  is  based  partly  on  hearsay  and  partly  on 
such  details  as  were  revealed  by  persons  who  had  official  or 
accidental  knowledge  of  the  ritual. 


"  When  the  king  became  sick,  or  infirm,  or  broke  any 
of  the  royal  taboos,  or  proved  himself  unfortunate,  he  was 
secretly  put  to  death.  Whether  any  king  was,  in  the  olden 
days,  permitted  to  die  a  natural  death  cannot  now  be  known, 
but  it  is  noteworthy  that  many  Jukun  kings  are  said  to  have 
reached  a  hoary  old  age,  so  that  mere  old  age  was  not  in 
itself  considered  a  sufficient  cause  for  the  ritual  murder  of 
the  king.  The  mode  of  killing  was  by  strangulation  with  a 
string  or  piece  of  cloth.  .  .  .  Those  appointed  to  commit 
the  murder  entered  the  palace  at  night,  having  previously 
suborned  the  Aku  Nako,  Kato,  and  Iche1  to  assist,  if  not  to 
take  the  principal  part  in  the  murder.  The  two  executioners 
tied  a  noose  of  cloth  round  the  neck  of  the  sleeping  king,  and 
going  off  in  different  directions  pulled  the  cloth  until  the  king 
was  strangled.  It  is  said  that  if  the  king  woke  up  and 
attempted  to  summon  assistance  the  executioners  reminded 
him  that  they  were  but  performing  the  ancestral  custom  and 
that  it  behoved  the  king  to  behave  quietly,  as  his  royal 
ancestors  had  done  before  him.  Another  method  was  for  the 
conspirators  to  bore  a  hole  in  the  wall  of  the  king's  sleeping 
apartment  and  pass  a  noose  through  to  the  king's  wife,  who 
fastened  it  round  his  neck,  the  conspirators  then  pulling  on 
the  noose  from  outside.  The  king  could  only  be  killed  by 
strangulation  for  two  reasons  :  (a)  that  the  executioners 
might  .not  look  into  the  king's  eyes  as  he  died,  for  if  they  did 
his  departing  spirit  would  slay  them  ;  and  (£)  that  the  king's 
blood  might  not  be  spilt.  It  is  also  said  that  no  one  who  had 
a  claim  to  the  throne  might  be  present  at  the  king's  execution. 

"  The  king's  demise  was  and  is  kept  a  close  secret,  and  is 
not,  in  fact,  revealed  until  many  months  afterwards,  when  the 
body  is  formally  buried.  Various  reasons  are  assigned  for 
this  secrecy,  such  as  that  the  counsellors  may  have  time  to 
choose  a  successor,  that  bloody  contests  between  aspirants 
for  the  throne  may  be  avoided,  or  that  the  royal  slaves  and 
wives  may  not  run  away.  But  the  real  reason  would  seem 
to  depend  on  the  belief  that  the  king  is  the  crops.  If  he  dies 
between  March  and  December  an  announcement  of  his  death 
would  be  tantamount  to  a  repudiation  of  the  central  feature 
of  Jukun  religion,  viz.  the  identification  of  the  king  with  the 

*  The  Akft  Nako,  Katd,  and  Icbe  are  three  royal  officials. 


annual  corn  ;  or  to  say  that  he  had  '  returned  to  the  skies  * 
would  be  the  same  thing  as  saying  that  there  would  be  no 
harvest  that  year.  It  would  in  fact  be  an  invitation  to  the 
crops  to  wither  up.  His  body  is  therefore  kept  preserved 
until  after  the  harvest.  Even  at  the  present  time,  when  it  is 
no  longer  possible  to  preserve  for  long  the  secret  of  the  king's 
death,  it  is  believed  that  the  crops  harvested  after  his  death 
are  the  late  king's  '  seed.1  If  he  dies  in  the  dry  season  it 
might  be  supposed  that  his  death  could  be  announced  with 
safety,  his  functions  being  handed  over  to  his  successor ; 
but  even  in  this  case  the  normal  rule  is  observed,  though  the 
ensuing  crop  is  regarded  as  being  that  of  his  successor."  1 
After  the  king's  death  an  incision  is  made  in  his  body  and 
the  heart  extracted.  It  is  placed  on  a  pointed  stick  beside  a 
fire.  When  it  is  thoroughly  dried  it  is  ground  into  a  powder 
which  is  handed  over  to  a  court  official  that  it  may  be  secretly 
and  periodically  inserted  into  the  food  of  the  king's  successor. 
The  body  itself  is  desiccated  by  fumigation  over  a  slow  fire. 
"  The  period  of  fumigation  varies  from  four  to  ten  months, 
according  to  the  time  of  the  year  at  which  the  king  had  died. 
Being  the  personification  of  the  life  of  the  crops  he  cannot  be 
buried  during  the  dry  season.  Otherwise  the  crops  would  die 
for  ever.  He  is  usually  buried  at  the  beginning  of  the  wet 
season  when  the  bulrush-millet  crop  has  attained  the  height 
of  about  one  foot."  2  When  the  time  for  burial  has  come  the 
king's  corpse  is  mounted  on  a  horse  behind  a  rider.  The 
horseman  first  faces  south,  then  proceeds  some  paces  north, 
then  goes  west,  and  returns  eastward,  At  this  stage  all  the 
people  burst  into  loud  lamentation,  throwing  themselves 
upon  the  ground,  and  crying  out,  "  Our  lord,  whither  are 
you  going  ?  Return,  oh  return  !  In  whose  hands  have  ye 
left  us  ?  Our  Corn,  our  Beans,  our  Ground-nuts."  The 
horseman  wheels  the  horse  and  the  drummer  plays  a  chant 
and  sings,  calling  on  the  names  of  former  kings,  and  saying 
that  the  king  whom  they  know  is  leaving  them  ;  may  those 
who  have  gone  before  receive  him  well,  and  may  he  salute 
his  ancestors  on  behalf  of  the  people.  The  horseman  again 
wheels  his  horse  as  though  to  go,  and  again  the  people  break 
into  lamentation.  A  certain  official  (the  Angwo  Tsi)  falls 

1  C.  K.  Meek,  of.  eft,  pp.  165  sqq     >  C.  K.  Meek,  op.  cit.  p.  169 


on  the  ground  saying,  "  And  are  you  going  off  thus  and 
leaving  us  destitute  of  rain  and  corn  ?  "  At  this  the  horse- 
man discharges  some  millet  from  the  dead  king's  hand,  and 
some  water  from  a  flask.  Accompanied  by  the  senior 
officials  and  the  royal  family  the  horseman  then  rides  off, 
with  the  king's  body  behind  him.  They  proceed  as  far  as  a 
small  hamlet  where  the  Ku  Za  or  priest  of  the  corn  bars  their 
progress  with  a  demand  for  the  return  of  the  seed  which  had 
been  conferred  on  the  king  at  his  coronation.  A  few  seeds 
are  handed  to  the  priest  who  declares  that  they  are  worthless 
as  they  have  been  fully  used.  The  Kinda  protests  that  this 
is  not-their  fault  but  is  the  doing  of  the  Sky- God  (Chidff). 
They  pray  the  priest  to  have  patience  and  to  allow  them  to 
spend  the  night  there.  On  the  following  morning  they 
proceed  to  the  hamlet  of  the  Ku  Vi,  who  had  conferred  the 
kingship  on  the  king,  and  there  the  progress  of  the  party  is 
again  barred  by  a  demand  for  the  return  of  the  royal  coat, 
cap,  and  whip.  The  priestly  official  known  as  Kato  also 
demands  the  return  of  the  rain-making  cloth.  The  king 
is  thus  divested  of  his  kingship  and  now  becomes  merely 
a  corpse.  He  is  given  a  new  personal  name  and  under 
this  name  the  body  is  finally  handed  to  the  Ba-Nando,  the 
kindred  which  is  responsible  for  carrying  out  the  burial  rites. 
They  deposit  the  corpse  in  a  burial  hut,  which  is  then  sealed 
up  and  surrounded  by  a  stockade.  Close  to  the  burial  hut  a 
horse  is  tossed  on  the  ground  and  killed  with  clubs.  In  former 
times  two  slaves,  male  and  female,  were  killed  by  having  their 
necks  twisted,  their  bodies  being  left  near  the  doorway  of  the 
royal  tomb.  The  male  slave  thus  killed  was  known  as  the 
attendant  of  "  the  Corn,"  that  is,  of  the  king.  After  death  he 
became  one  of  the  slave  ghosts  whose  cult  is  in  the  hands  of 
the  Ba-Nando.  These  ghosts  are  propitiated  ;  and  in  times 
of  drought,  or  when  the  harmattan  wind  is  delayed,  sacrifice 
may  be  offered  to  them,  should  the  divining  apparatus  declare 
that  the  failure  of  the  rain  or  wind  was  due  to  them,  the  king 
providing  the  sacrificial  gifts.  The  hut  over  the  king's  grave 
is  not,  nowadays,  kept  in  repair,  but  in  former  times  it  was 
re-thatched  when  rites  were  occasionally  offered  on  behalf  of 
the  living  king.  The  occasions  for  such  rites  would  be  when 
a  drought  threatened  and  the  divining  apparatus  had  indi- 


cated  that  the  rains  were  being  withheld  by  the  former 
king.  Two  slaves,  provided  by  the  king,  were  sacrificed, 
their  necks  being  broken  and  the  blood  which  exuded  from 
their  mouth  and  nostrils  being  caught  in  a  calabash  and 
poured  on  the  top  of  the  grave  of  that  king  who  had  been 
declared  to  be  inhibiting  the  rains.  The  formula  used  was 
"  Your  grandchild  has  given  you  this  offering.  If  it  is  you 
who  are  withholding  the  rains  then  accept  the  offering  and 
send  us  rain  that  we  may  harvest  our  crops  and  make  liba- 
tions to  you."  In  the  burial  hut  beside  the  royal  corpse  is 
always  deposited  a  bag  containing  the  parings  of  the  nails 
and  the  clippings  of  the  hair  of  the  late  king,  which  are 
accumulated  during  his  reign.1 

A  fuller  account  of  the  custom  of  killing  the  Jukun  kings 
of  Kororofa  is  given  by  Mr.  H.  R.  Palmer,  a  high  authority 
on  the  history  of  Northern  Nigeria.  According  to  him, 
the  Jukun  or  (as  he  spells  the  name)  Jukon  kings  were  only 
allowed  to  reign  two  years  and  were  then  killed,  until  a  king 
named  Agudu  enlisted  a  Hausa  bodyguard,  and  so  contrived 
to  prolong  his  reign  to  eleven  years.  The  procedure  at  the 
killing  of  the  king  and  the  enthronement  of  "his  slayer  is 
reported  to  have  been  as  follows : 

"  There  was  a  king  made  every  two  years.  When  a  king 
had  reigned  two  years  it  was  considered  that  he  had  enjoyed 
power  long  enough,  and  he  was  compelled  to  fight  with  the 
senior  member  of  the  royal  family,  who  came  forward  and 
challenged  him  to  fight  until  one  of  them  was  killed.  The 
descent  of  the  kingship  did  not  go  from  the  reigning  king  to 
his  sons,  but  to  any  children  of  any  deceased  king.  The 
would-be  successor,  at  about  the  season  of  the  great  feast, 
used  to  come  into  the  king's  mess  suddenly  and  walk  round 
and  then  go  out.  Of  course  under  ordinary  circumstances 
this  would  have  been  a  great  affront,  but  the  king  understood 
that  from  that  time  forward  the  king  must  guard  himself. 
At  the  first  opportunity  after  this  the  successor  attacked  the 
king.  If  he  killed  him,  the  fight  was  over  for  the  time  ;  if 
he  did  not  kill  him,  another  of  his  relations  came  forward 
and  challenged  the  king  in  the  same  way.  This  went  on 
until  someone  did  kill  the  king. 

1  C.  K.  Meek,  op.  tit.  pp.  170-175 


"  After  the  king  was  killed  his  body  was  taken  to  the  place 
of  sacrifice,  the  internal  organs  were  removed,  and  four  men 
were  put  to  guard  the  corpse,  which  was  placed  on  a  bed 
and  smeared  over  with  salt  and  butter.  A  slow  fire  was 
lighted  underneath  and  the  body  thus  kept  often  for  two  or 
three  months.  At  the  end  of  this  period  all  the  chief  men  of 
the  country  were  summoned  and  the  death  of  the  king  was 
officially  announced.  All  the  chiefs  of  the  country  assembled 
at  the  place  of  sacrifice,  which  was  called  pujz,  and  all  the 
male  members  of  the  royal  family  attended,  among  them 
the  king-slayer.  Then  the  chief  priest  stepped  forward  and 
said,  '  We  wish  to  make  a  king.'  A  chair,  a  bed,  and  five 
or  six  turmfs  x  were  arranged  in  a  circle.  The  chief  priest 
and  other  important  officers  sat  on  the  turmfs,  the  king- 
slayer  taking  the  chair.  Then  the  chief  priest  advanced  and 
asked  if  all  were  assembled.  He  then  said  :  '  So-and-so  our 
king  is  dead  ;  we  wish  to  decide  on  someone  who  can  main- 
tain us.  Here  are  the  whip  and  the  cap.'  Then  the  senior 
chief  present  took  the  whip  and  the  cap  and  gave  them  to 
the  chief  priest,  saying  :  '  Give  us  a  king.'  The  chief  priest 
placed  the  cap  on  the  head  of  the  king-slayer  and  the  whip 
on  his  neck,  saying,  at  the  same  time  :  '  You  have  killed  our 
elder  brother,  but  to-day  you  are  in  his  place.  Do  not  let 
us  lack  food  or  drink.  If  you  can  give  us  these,  let  us  see  if 
this  cap  will  remain  on  your  head.'  The  cap  was  then  put 
on  the  king-slayer's  head,  and  he  twisted  his  head  round 
sharply  with  the  cap  on.  If  the  cap  did  not  fall  off  he  was 
then  made  king, 

"  After  that  a  black  dog,  a  black  ox,  a  black  goat,  and 
black  fowls  were  sacrificed  at  the  gate  through  which  the 
new  king  would  pass  on  going  out.  As  he  went  through, 
the  chief  priest  said  :  '  To-day  the  world  is  yours,  but  see 
the  corpse  of  him  whom  you  killed  ;  you  must  bury  what 
belongs  to  you.  See  the  blood  on  the  ground  ;  cross  it 
and  pass.'  Then  the  new  king  stepped  over  the  body  of  the 
old  king,  and  when  he  had  crossed  the  chief  priest  said : 
'  What  you  have  done  to  the  dead  to-day,  to-morrow  will 
be  done  to  you.  Do  you  agree  ?  '  And  he  replied  :  *  Who 

1  "  Turmi — a  wooden  mortar  for  pounding  corn,  which  is  turned  upside 
clown  and  used  as  a  seat." 


has  tried  to  escape  the  custom  of  our  country,  and  how  can  I  ? 
I  agree  !  ' 

"  Then  followed  the  burial,  which  took  place  the  same 
night.  The  chief  priest  clothed  the  corpse  of  the  dead  king, 
and  he,  the  senior  chief,  and  the  new  king  alone  took  the 
body  to  the  place  of  burial.  The  new  king  mounted  a  horse, 
and  the  corpse  was  put  astride  the  horse  in  front  of  him. 
They  then  went  in  solemn  procession  to  the  place  of  burial, 
which  is  called  puji.  This  procession  to  puji  took  place  at 
midnight,  and  no  women,  boys,  or  strangers  were  allowed 
to  see  it. 

"  The  place  of  burial  was  a  funeral  chamber  excavated 
beneath  the  floor  of  a  large,  domed,  circular  hut.  A  hole 
was  made  in  the  centre  of  the  hut  with  a  narrow  opening 
about  two  feet  across,  widening  out  below  to  about  the  same 
size  as  the  hut  itself.  Its  general  shape  was  therefore  like 
an  inverted  funnel.  The  roof  of  this  funeral  chamber  was 
supported  by  beams  and  rafters.  The  earth  was  all  removed 
to  a  distance.  The  floor  was  beaten.  A  kind  of  ladder  was 
made  by  which  to  descend  into  the  tomb. 

"  The  king,  the  chief  priest,  and  the  senior  chief  carried 
the  old  king's  body  down  into  the  tomb.  Prepared  for  its 
reception  were  a  red  cloak,  twelve  mats,  tulus  (water-jars), 
a  washing  basin,  a  calabash  for  drinking,  pipe  and  tobacco, 
apparatus  for  making  fire,  a  finger-bowl,  some  palm  wine. 
The  mouth  of  the  hole  is  then  covered  over.  The  roof  of  the 
hut  is  covered  by  all  the  people  of  the  village.with  old  clothes, 
and  it  is  left  until  it  falls  in.  ... 

"  The  king  might  not  sneeze.  If  he  sneezed,  coughed, 
had  smallpox,  or  was  sick  in  any  way  he  was  killed."  x 

Among  the  Fung,  a  tribe  inhabiting  the  country  south 
of  the  Gezira  between  the  White  and  Blue  Niles,  but  who 
seem  to  have  migrated  thither  from  Sennar,  the  custom  of 
killing  the  king  on  magical  or  religious  grounds  seems 
formerly  to  have  been  regularly  observed.  It  is  recorded 
by  the  traveller  Bruce,2  who  tells  us  that  the  king-killer  was 

1  H.  R.  Palmer,  "Notes  on  the  Source  of  the  Nile  (Edinburgh,  1790;, 

Kororofawa  and  Jukon,"  in  Journal  iv.  459-461,  cited  by  C.  G.  and  B.  Z. 

of  the  African  Society,  No.  44,  vol.  xi.,  Seligman,  Pagan  Tribes  of  the 

July  1912,  pp.  407-409.  Nilotic  Sudan,  p.  423. 

a  J.  Bruce,  Travels  to  Discover  the 


a  regular  official  who  might  in  his  time  despatch  several 

"  Professor  Evans-Pritchard's  informants  stated  that  the 
ruler  would  be  killed  by  a  relative  (and  by  no  other)  who  was 
ambitious  to  occupy  his  high  office,  but  that  this  could  not 
happen  until  the  deed  had  been  sanctioned  by  a  family 
council,  since  the  killing  was  no  individual  murder  but  rather 
a  joint  execution  ;  consequently  only  those  kings  who  proved 
unsatisfactory  to  the  Fung  relatives  were  killed.  The  actual 
spearing  appears  to  have  been  carried  out  by  a  brother  of 
the  king  by  the  same  father  but  having  a  different  mother, 
though  the  mother's  brother's  son  and  the  father's  brother's 
son  were  also  mentioned  as  fulfilling  this  function.  When 
several  brothers  united  to  kill  the  king  it  was  regarded 
proper  that  the  eldest  of  them  should  succeed  him.  The 
slayer  might  try  and  spear  the  king  at  night,  or  might  lie 
in  wait  for  him  with  a  party  in  the  bush,  but  he  would  seldom 
find  him  alone,  as  the  king  always  went  about  with  an 
armed  bodyguard  of  slaves.  He  would  regularly  change 
his  sleeping  hut,  not  only  nightly,  but  several  times  during 
the  night,  sleeping  only  a  little  while  in  each  hut  and  always 
surrounded  by  armed  guards.  It  was  the  present  head  of 
the  Fung  line  who  told  Professor  Evans- Pritchard  how 
little  his  ancestors  dared  to  sleep  at  night ;  '  he  slept  and 
woke,  slept  and  woke,  slept  and  woke/  he  said,  while  another 
man  added  how  restless  the  king  was  at  night,  '  always  on 
the  move,  coming  and  going.' 

"  When  it  had  been  decided  that  the  king  should  die,  he 
was  wakened  in  the  night  by  his  guard  and  told  that  there 
was  a  party  of  armed  men  outside.  He  and  his  bodyguard 
fought  to  the  death,  and  all  with  him  were  slain  by  his 
relatives  and  their  retainers.  His  wives  were  not  slain  but 
were  inherited  by  a  brother,  though  not  by  his  slayer.  Age 
and  sickness  were  not  regarded  as  reasons  for  killing  the 
ruler  as  amongst  the  Shilluk  and  Dinka,  nor  was  he  specially 
protected  from  the  dangers  of  war  but  took  part  in  the 
fighting.1'  i 

Among  the  Mbum,  a  tribe  inhabiting  the  district  of 
Ngaundere  in  the  French  Cameroons,  the  chief  is  known  as 

1  C.  G.  and  B.  Z.  Seligman,  op.  eft.  p.  427, 


Belaka.     "  The  Belaka  is  '  the  father  of  the  cults  ' ;    he  is 
likened  to  a  lion  or  a  leopard  among  animals  ;   he  is  a  demi- 
god— in  fact,  he  is  almost  God  himself.     For  he  is  the  reposi- 
tory of  the  life  and  prosperity  of  the  community.     Childbirth, 
rain,  crops,  health  are  so  intimately  connected  with  him  that 
any  deficiency  in  these  is  ascribed  to  his  deliberate  ill-will  or 
culpable  neglect.     When  he  goes  abroad  he  is  preceded  and 
followed  by  four  men  carrying  torches  of  grass,  for  it  is  said 
that  though  the  chief  may  share  with  others  the  heat  of  the 
sun,  he  alone  may  feel  the  heat  of  fire — for  fire  belongs  to  him. 
The  chief  is  the  keeper  of  the  seed  corn.     All  the  corn  har- 
vested on  the  royal  farm  is  deposited  in  a  huge  granary  close 
to  the  rain  and  corn  shrine.     At  sowing  time  the  royal  drum, 
mounted  on  a  platform,  is  sounded,  and  all  farmers  come  to 
receive  the  seed,  which,  being  the  king's,  is  regarded  as 
charged  with  magical  power.     Each  farmer  is  given  a  little 
of  the  seed  and  hurries  home  to  plant  it  the  same  day  (if  he 
waited  until  the  following  day  the  seed  would  lose  its  magical 
efficacy).     This  custom  is  precisely  that  of  the  Wukari  and 
Kona  Jukun.     The  chief  is  held  responsible  for  drought 
conditions  ;    for  a  drought  may  be  occasioned  either  by  the 
failure  of  the  chief  to  see  that  all  due  religious  rites  have  been 
performed,  or  merely  because  the  general  character  of  the 
chief  was  displeasing  to  the  gods.     As  an  example  of  the 
former  a  drought  might  occur  as  a  result  of  the  anger  of  the 
gods  because,  during  an  epidemic,  the  chief  had  taken  no 
steps  to  stay  the  witchcraft  which  had  caused  the  epidemic. 
For  in  times  of  excessive  sickness  it  is  the  business  of  the  chief 
to  subject  the  entire  town  to  an  ordeal  by  sasswood  in  order 
that  witches  may  be  detected  and  automatically  removed.  .  . . 
"  The  Mbum  chief  was  not  always  put  to  death  ;  if  things 
went  well  and  he  was  popular  he  was  left  alone.     Otherwise 
the  members  of  his  family  would  ask  for  the  performance  of 
some  religious  rites,  followed  as  usual  by  an  orgy  of  beer- 
drinking.     While  the  beer  bout  was  in  progress  the  con- 
spirators busied  themselves  boring  a  hole  in  the  wall  on  the 
other  side  of  which  was  the  royal  couch.     When  the  intoxi- 
cated chief  lay  down  and  went  to  sleep  the  conspirators  com- 
pleted the  last  stage  of  boring,  and  thrust  through  a  noose. 
The  chief's  wife,  having  been  suborned,  fixed  the  noose  round 


his  neck,  and  the  conspirators  on  the  other  side  of  the  wall 
pulled  on  the  rope  and  strangled  the  chief."  x 

With  regard  to  kings  in  Southern  Nigeria,  we  are  informed 
by  Mr.  P.  Amaury  Talbot,  whose  official  position  and  long 
residence  in  the  country  have  afforded  him  unique  oppor- 
tunities of  observation,  that  "  throughout  the  land,  as  a 
general  rule,  the  king  combines  magico-religious  with  civil 
duties,  acts  as  the  representative  and  priest  of  the  town  or 
clan  in  all  dealings  with  gods,  jujus,2  and  ancestors,  and 
regulates  all  religious  ceremonies.  He  is  often  regarded  as 
semi-divine,  endowed  with  the  spirit  of  his  ancestors  or  the 
ancestral  god,  is  confined  to  his  house  except  on  special  occa- 
sions— chiefly,  no  doubt,  so  that  the  sanctity  in  which  he  lives 
should  not  be  violated — and  the  prosperity  of  the  countryside 
and  the  fertility  of  crops,  animals  and  men  are  thought  to  be 
linked  with  his  well-being  and  his  performance  of  the  proper 
magical  and  other  rites.  The  power  of  bringing  rain  is  often 
attributed  to  these  chiefs."  3 

One  of  these  priestly  kings  or  kingly  priests  resides  at 
Elele,  an  important  market-town  of  the  Ibo  people,  to  the 
north  of  Degema  Division.  This  priestly  king,  who  is  named 
Eleche,  is  the  head  of  the  worship  of  the  yams,  which  furnish 
the  people  with  one  of  their  staple  foods.  The  fetish  associ- 
ated with  the  worship  is  called  Aya-Eke.  It  is  kept  in  a  com- 
pound called  Omo  Kpurukpu,  "  and  there,  from  election  until 
death — at  most  seven  years  later,  even  should  the  full  term  of 
office  be  completed — the  priest  dwells,  carefully  guarded  by 
all  his  people  and  never  crossing  the  threshold  unless  called 
forth  by  some  grave  emergency.  The  reason  for  this  restric- 
tion is  that  up  to  a  few  years  ago  any  man  who  succeeded  in 
killing  the  holder  of  this  office  would  reign  in  his  stead. 

"  The  whole  prosperity  of  the  town,  especially  the  fruit- 
fulness  of  farm,  byre,  and  marriage-bed,  was  linked  with  his 
life.  Should  he  fall  sick,  it  entailed  famine  and  grave  disaster 
upon  the  inhabitants,  and  there  is  reason  to  believe  that,  in 
such  a  case,  facilities  were  offered  to  a  successor.  Under  no 
circumstances  did  the  term  of  office  last  for  more  than  seven 

1  C.  K.  Meek,  Tribal  Studies  in         8  P.   A.   Talbot,    The  Peoples  of 
Northern  Nigeria,  ii.  491  sqq.  Southern  Nigeria,  iii.  563  sq. 

1  That  is,  fetishes.— J.  G.  F. 


full  years.  This  prohibition  still  holds  ;  but  since  the  coming 
of  Government  it  is  said  that  another  of  the  same  family,  who 
must  always  be  a  strong  man,  may  be  chosen  to  take  up  the 
position  in  his  stead.  No  sooner  is  a  successor  appointed, 
however,  than  the  former  priest  is  reported  to  '  die  for  himself.' 
It  was  frankly  owned  that,  before  Government  came — i.e. 
some  dozen  years  ago — things  were  arranged  differently  in 
that,  at  any  time  during  his  seven  years'  term,  the  priest  might 
be  put  to  death  by  one  strong  and  resourceful  enough  to 
overcome  him. 

"  In  answer  to  the  question  as  to  whether,  in  view  of  the 
fate  known  to  follow  after  so  short  a  period,  it  was  not  diffi- 
cult to  find  men  willing  to  succeed  to  the  office  on  such  terms, 
Mr.  Braid  answered  in  a  somewhat  surprised  tone  :  '  Oh,  no  ! 
Many  wish  for  the  post,  because  so  much  wealth  is  brought 
them  at  the  annual  festival  that  they  become  very  rich — past 
all  others  in  the  town.' 

"  Our  informant  also  stated  that,  during  his  own  term  of 
office,  Chief  Eleche  has  only  once  been  known  to  pass  beyond 
the  compound  walls.  The  occasion  was  as  follows  :  A  fellow 
townsman  accused  him  of  making  a  Juju  to  kill  the  com- 
plainant. The  case  came  into  court  and,  all  unconscious  of 
the  excitement  which  such  a  proceeding  must  cause,  the 
chief  was  bidden  to  attend  and  answer  the  charge.  He 
arrived,  accompanied  by  nearly  all  the  townsfolk,  who  not 
only  filled  the  courtyard,  which  is  a  very  large  enclosed  space, 


but  thronged  the  market-place  outside.  They  came,  in  a 
state  of  great  anxiety,  to  watch  over  the  sacred  priest  and 
guard  him,  so  far  as  in  them  lay,  from  any  misfortune  the 
effects  of  which,  it  was  believed,  would  react  on  all  the 

"  Doubtless  Mr.  Braid  would  have  been  less  ready  to 
impart  information  of  this  nature,  had  it  not  been  that  he  was 
about  to  leave  the  place,  in  all  probability  never  to  return."  * 

Mr.  Talbot  visited  Elele  and  questioned  the  priest  himself 
in  his  house,  which  is  formed  of  elaborately  carved  wooden 
panels,  being  apparently  the  only  house  of  the  kind  in  the 
whole  Division.  The  priest  told  him  :  "No  priest  of  Aya- 
Eke  may  eat  of  the  new  season's  yams.  All  the  harvest  must 

1  P.  A.  Talbot,  Some  Nigerian  Fertility  Cults  (Oxford,  1927),  pj>   103  sqq. 


be  garnered  and  the  festival  held.  Then,  though  others  may 
eat,  I  may  not  until  all  the  new  farms  have  been  cut  and 
planted.  Only  when  the  last  of  the  seed  yams  has  been  laid 
in  the  ground  do  the  people  bring  me  those  which  yet  remain 
over  in  the  yam  racks.  These  I  eat,  calling  the  first  of  them 
1  my  new  season's  yam,1  though  in  reality  it  was  garnered  at 
the  last  harvest  about  seven  moons  before.  ...  It  is  a  very 
strong  law  of  the  Juju  that  no  yams,  save  such  as  are  old 
enough  to  plant,  may  be  eaten  by  a  priest  of  Aya-Eke.  None 
has  ever  broken  this  rule  ;  for,  should  it  be  disobeyed,  the 
seed  yams  would  die  in  the  ground,  bearing  no  increase.  All 
the  great  men  of  our  family  have  kept  the  law  faithfully."  * 

One  of  Mr.  Talbot's  party  inquired  of  Eleche,  the  priest, 
whether  he  himself  had  power  to  appoint  a  successor,  or  in 
what  way  one  was  chosen.  "  No  sooner  was  the  word  '  suc- 
cessor '  uttered  than  Eleche  raised  his  arms  over  his  head 
twice  as  though  to  ward  off  threatened  danger,  while  his  head 
wife,  who  kept  close  to  him  throughout,  shrugged  her 
shoulders  violently  over  and  over  again,  repeating  in  an 
agitated  voice  :  '  Mba  !  Mba  !  Che  !  Che  !  '  (Let  it 
not  be!  Let  it  not  be!).  Meanwhile  the  crowd  of  retainers 
took  up  the  cry,  low  but  angry,  like  the  rumble  of  distant 
thunder,  waving  hands  outward  as  if  to  drive  off  the  ill  effects 
of  such  ominous  speech,  Eleche  answered  excitedly,  the 
words  tumbling  over  one  another  in  his  agitation :  '  No 
successor  is  needed  ;  for  I  shall  never  die  !  It  is  forbidden 
even  to  mention  such  a  word  !  In  the  beginning  of  things, 
when  I  came  out  of  the  world,  it  was  arranged  that  I  should 
not  be  as  other  men  but  should  live  very  long — looking  after 
my  people  and  bringing  them  prosperity.  The  fate  of  com- 
mon men  is  not  for  me !  Thereupon,  like  a  Greek  chorus, 
came  the  response  of  the  crowd :  '  Oda  !  Oda !  '  (Forbid 
it !  Forbid  it !)."  2 

The  Bambara,  a  large  tribe  in  the  French  territory  of 
Upper  Senegal  and  Niger,  have  an  ancient  tradition  that 
formerly  their  kings  were  only  allowed  to  reign  so  long  as  they 
retained  their  strength  and  vigour.  When  they  noticed  that 
the  king's  strength  was  failing,  they  said  "  The  grass  is 
withering  !  The  grass  is  beginning  to  wither,"  which  had 

*  P.  A.  Talbot,  op.  cit.  pp.  108  sq.  *  P.  A.  Talbot,  op,  tit.  p.  109. 


a  sinister  significance  for  the  ageing  king  whose  hair  was 
beginning  to  grow  grey.1 

According  to  a  tradition  of  the  tribe,  when  a  new  king  of 
the  Bambara  was  elected  he  had  to  submit  to  a  test  for  the 
purpose  of  determining  the  length  of  his  reign  and  of  his  life. 
One  of  the  cloths  which  are  used  for  baking  the  native  bread 
was  passed  round  the  neck  of  the  king-elect,  and  two  assistants 
pulled  the  ends  of  the  cloth  in  opposite  directions,  while  the 
king-elect  feverishly  plunged  his  hands  into  a  bowl  containing 
a  number  of  pebbles  and  of  baobab  leaves  ;  the  number  of 
pebbles  he  could  succeed  in  clutching  at  one  grasp  was  the 
number  of  the  years  of  his  reign.  When  the  number  of  the 
years  was  passed,  the  king  was  put  to  death  by  strangulation, 
the  instrument  of  death  being  the  cotton  cloth  which  had 
determined  the  length  of  his  reign.2 

Among  the  Banyankole,  a  pastoral  people  of  the  Uganda 
Protectorate,  the  king  is  known  by  the  title  of  Mugabe.  "  No 
Mugabe  ever  allowed  himself  to  grow  old  .  he  had  to  put  an 
end  to  his  life  before  his  powers,  either  mental  or  physical, 
began  to  deteriorate.  It  was  even  thought  undesirable  that 
the  Mugabe  should  look  old,  and  treatment  was  applied  to 
prevent  his  hair  from  growing  grey.  A  bird,  kinyankwanzi^ 
was  caught  and  killed,  the  body  being  dried  and  burnt  to 
ashes,  which  were  mixed  with  butter.  This  mixture  was  pre- 
pared by  the  medicine-man,  who  pronounced  some  magic 
incantations  over  it,  and,  when  the  night  was  darkest  before 
the  new  moon  appeared,  the  Mugabe  smeared  his  head  with 
it.  The  bird,  Kinyankwanzi^  was  sacred,  and  if  any  un- 
authorized person  killed  one  he  was  deprived  of  all  his  posses- 
sions. No  Mugabe  ever  went  on  living  when  he  felt  that  his 
powers  were  failing  him  through  either  serious  illness  or  old 
age.  As  soon  as  he  felt  his  strength  diminishing  he  knew  it 
was  time  to  end  his  life,  and  he  called  his  chiefs,  and  also  his 
sons,  who  never  came  to  see  him  except  on  this  occasion.  .  .  . 
When  all  was  ready,  he  summoned  the  royal  medicine-man 
and  asked  for  the  king's  poison.  This  was  always  kept  in 
readiness  in  the  shell  of  a  crocodile's  egg.  The  white  of  the 

1  L.  Tauxier,  La  Religion  Bambara      Sigon  et  du   Kaarta   (Paris,    1924), 
(Paris,  1927),  p.  219  n.  p.  305. 

a  C.    Monteil,    Les    Bambara    du 


egg  was  dried  and  powdered  and  mixed  with  the  dried  nerve 
from  the  pointed  end  of  an  elephant's  tusk  and  some  other 
ingredients,  the  exact  mixture  being  kept  strictly  secret. 
This  had  only  to  be  mixed  with  a  little  water  or  beer  to  be 
ready  for  use,  and  when  the  Mugabe  drank  it  he  fell  dead  in  a 
few  moments. "  1 

Another  African  king  who  is  never  allowed  to  die  a  natural 
death  is  the  Sultan  of  Uha  in  Tanganyika  Territory.  When  he 
is  at  the  point  of  death  he  is  strangled  or  his  neck  is  twisted 
by  anybody  who  happens  to  be  present.  The  custom  may  be 
a  relic  of  an  older  practice  of  killing  him  on  the  first  symptoms 
of  weakness  or  senility.  No  sooner  is  he  dead  than  pande- 
monium reigns  in  the  village.  Everybody  flees,  driving  away 
all  beasts  and  snatching  up  any  article  they  can  lay  hands  on. 
The  Bilu,  who  are  said  to  be  the  children  of  certain  slave 
women,  alone  remain  and  take  charge  of  the  body,  and  they 
seize  all  the  cattle  and  other  property  left  behind  by  the  fugi- 
tives in  their  haste.  The  corpse  may  not  be  buried  injrhe 
bare  earth.  A  white  cow  is  killed  and  the  hide  removed 
entire,  the  horns  being  detached  from  it.  The  body  is  placed 
in  the  hide,  the  head  resting  on  the  skin  of  the  cow's  head 
and  the  arms  and  legs  resting  on  the  skin  of  the  cow's  legs. 
The  hide  is  then  sewn  up,  and  dried  over  fires  which  are  fed 
(sic)  with  milk.  When  it  is  dry  the  body  is  deposited  in  a 
canoe-shaped  wooden  trough  and  carried  to  the  burial-place 
of  the  sultans,  where  it  is  set  on  trestles,  and  a  hut  is  built 
over  it.2 

Another  African  people  who  are,  or  were  till  lately, 
governed  by  a  priestly  king  of  the  type  we  are  here  consider- 
ing are  the  Konde,  a  Bantu  tribe  inhabiting  the  country 
round  the  northern  end  of  Lake  Nyasa.  The  title  of  the  king 
is  Chungu.  "  The  Chungu  of  to-day  is  but  a  poor  shadow 
of  his  great  ancestors.  European  power  has  deprived  him  of 
many  of  his  prerogatives,  and  stripped  his  person  and  his 
office  of  much  that  was  picturesque,  and  might  well  have 
been  preserved.  But  even  in  the  heyday  of  their  glory,  the 
Chungus  were  but  priest-kings,  hampered  in  their  divinity, 

1  J.  Roscoe,  The  Banyankole,  pp.     in  Tanganyika  Territory,"  Geograpfc 
50  sq.  cal  Journal,  Ixvi.  (1925)  p.  419. 

2  Captain  C.  H.  B.  Grant,  "  Uha 


hedged  in  their  kingship  by  advisers,  limitations,  customs, 
which  could  not  be  set  aside.  .  .  .  Chungu  himself,  however, 
was  and  still  is  *  the  man  who  speaks  with  God  *  ;  and  as 
such  he  is  hedged  with  a  real  divinity,  which  the  limitations 
to  which  he  has  to  submit,  and  the  independence  of  the 
once  subordinate  chiefs,  have  not  yet  destroyed.  He  remains 
pre-eminently  the  man  of  prayer,  who  carries  to  the  ancestral 
spirits  the  petitions  of  the  community,  and  speaks  to  them  with 
an  authority  which  no  other  possesses.  .  .  .  The  principal 
duties  of  the  councillors  were  to  put  the  Chungu  to  death 
when  he  became  seriously  ill,  a  duty  which  has  necessarily 
lapsed  under  British  rule.  .  .  . 

"  The  health  of  the  priest-king  and  the  welfare  of  the 
whole    community   were   inseparably   bound    up    together. 
A  Chungu  in  health  and  vigour  meant  a  land  yielding  its 
fruits,  rain  coming  in  its  season,  evil  averted.     But  a  weak 
and  ailing  Chungu  meant  disasters  of  many  kinds.     Smaller 
illnesses  Chungu,  very  excusably,  concealed  from  his  coun- 
cillors, hoping  that  his  ancestors  would  hear  the  prayers 
which  he  offered  secretly  by  night.     But  when  serious  illness 
overtook  him,  the  councillors  were  called  to  a  full  meeting 
by  those  who  were  about  the  person  of  the  chief.     For 
Chungu  must  not  die  a  natural  death  ;   the  land  would  turn 
into  water  should  such  a  calamity  be  allowed  to  happen. 
Having  decided  that  the  illness  is  really  grave,  the  councillors 
one  by  one  give  their  voice  in  the  formula,  '  Siku  na  mwaka} 
literally,  day  and  year ;    but  actually  meaning,  '  Does  God 
die  ? '     In  solemn  procession  these  terrible  persons  enter  the 
house  and,  having  turned  out  the  chief's  wives,  lay  him  down 
on  the  floor.    Two  keep  him  in  that  posture,  while  a  third 
stops  his  breath  by  holding  his  mouth  and  nostrils,  a  fourth 
meanwhile  gently  slapping  him  all  over  the  body  until  the  life 
has  gone  out  of  him. 

"  No  announcement  of  the  death  was  made.  One  of  the 
councillors  lived  in  the  royal  dwelling,  so  that  if  any  came  to 
consult  Chungu  a  response  might  be  given,  and  as  he  was 
rarely  seen  by  common  men  it  was  easy  to  keep  up  the  decep- 
tion. The  councillors  with  their  own  hands  digged  the  grave, 
and  on  their  shoulders,  at  midnight,  carried  the  body, 
anointed  with  lion  fat  and  enswathed  in  cloth,  to  the  place 


of  burial.  Six  or  eight  slaves,  who  did  not  return,  went 
with  them.  Four  went  down  into  the  grave  to  receive  the 
body  of  their  dead  master,  two  at  the  head  and  two  at  the 
feet,  and,  in  sitting  position,  held  him  in  their  arms.  The 
remaining  slaves  being  placed  on  top,  the  soil  was  filled  in 
on  living  and  dead."  After  the  lapse  of  about  a  month  the 
news  of  the  king's  death  was  conveyed  to  the  people  by  the 
beat  of  a  big  iron  drum.1 

The  successor  of  the  dead  Chungu  is  chosen  by  the  coun- 
cillors, with  the  help  of  divination,  from  certain  families. 
But  there  are  no  candidates  for  the  office ;  "for  not  only 
must  Chungu  himself  be  helped  out  of  the  world,  but  all  his 
sons,  born  after  his  accession,  are  put  to  death  at  birth."  2 

Among  the  Mashona,  a  Bantu  tribe  of  Southern  Rhodesia, 
a  chief  would  seem  to  have  been  regularly  put  to  death  when- 
ever his  bodily  or  mental  powers  were  seriously  impaired  by 
sickness  or  old  age.  On  this  subject  Mr.  Bullock,  who  has 
given  us  a  full  description  of  the  tribe,  writes  as  follows  : 
"  As  far  as  can  be  ascertained  from  comparatively  credible 
native  informants,  a  Chief  ran  the  risk  of  being  murdered 
when  he  became  enfeebled  by  old  age  or  sickness.  The  males 
of  his  entourage  would  expel  all  women  from  the  kraal,  then 
cut  his  throat.  The  blood  from  the  chiefs  throat  was  mixed 
with  grain,  and  this  seed  was  accounted  to  gain  immense 
fertility,  because  '  he  must  have  eaten  much  strong  medicine, 
being  so  old. '  The  motive  of  these  murders  was  not  said  to  be 
the  acquisition  of  this  fertility;  but  that  WuMambo — the 
Kingdom  (that  is  the  attributes  or  state  of  the  Chief)  might  not 
die.  Asked  as  to  whether  the  people  would  not  eagerly  seek 
the  exceptional  crops  to  be  gained  by  this  madiwisi  (fertility 
medicine),  and  so  demand  frequent  deaths  of  their  Chiefs, 
informants  stated  'No.  For  they  were  afraid  of  the  Chief 
while  his  strength  remained  ;  also  they  could  use  other 
potions  as  madiwisi  (as  they  do  to-day.)'  "  * 

A  more  precise  account  of  king-killing  among  the  Mashona 
is  given  by  the  Rev.  S.  S.  Dornan,  as  follows :  "  Among  the 
Varozwe  (Varozwi,  a  Shona  tribe)  the  custom  of  killing  the 

i  D.    R.    Mackenzie,    The   Spirit          •  Ibid.  p.  71. 

ridden    Konde    (London,    1925).  a  C.  Bullock,  The  Mashona  (Cape 

68-70.  OTO,  N.D.),  pp.  315  *?• 


king  prevailed.  Absence  of  bodily  blemishes  was  considered 
absolutely  necessary  in  the  occupant  of  the  throne.  .  .  . 
Even  when  in  full  possession  of  his  powers  he  was  sometimes 
not  allowed  to  reign  very  long.  If  he  showed  any  signs  of 
physical  decay,  such  as  loss  of  teeth,  grey  hairs,  failure  of 
sight,  or  impotency — in  fact,  any  of  the  indications  of  advan- 
cing age — he  was  put  to  death  and  a  man  was  deputed  to 
carry  the  resolution  into  effect.  He  was  waylaid  on  a  path 
and  strangled  with  a  thong  of  cowhide.  I  have  heard  it 
asserted  that  any  man  who  saw  the  king  declining  in  strength 
had  the  right  to  kill  him,  but  I  am  not  sure  if  this  is  true. . .  ."  x 

Among  the  Balobedu  of  the  northern  Transvaal  "  the 
divine  ruler  is  a  queen,  Modjagde,  and  it  appears  that  this  is 
not  accidental,  in  the  sense  that  the  holder  of  the  office 
happens  to  be  a  woman,  but  that  each  succeeding  sovereign 
is  a  woman. 

"  *  Among  the  Balobedu  the  chief  is  even  more  closely 
bound  up  with  the  agricultural  life  of  the  country,  for  here 
we  find  the  Sacred  Kingship — with  the  queen's  life  is  con- 
nected the  welfare  of  the  tribe  and  she  may  not  grow  old  lest 
vegetation  and  the  fertility  of  the  crops  be  correspondingly 
weakened.  Therefore  after  every  fourth  initiation  school  the 
queen  must  drink  poison  called  ketaba  (used  only  by  chiefs). 
Before  she  dies,  however,  she  must  impart  her  knowledge  of 
the  rain  charms  every  day  for  six  days  to  her  successor.' 

"  The  connection,  it  would  probably  be  fair  to  say  identity, 
between  the  Divine  Ruler  and  the  rain  is  shown  by  the  nature 
of  the  chief  ingredient  of  the  rain  medicine  : — 

"  €  On  the  death  of  the  queen,  which  is  kept  secret  for  a 
whole  year,  the  body  is  washed  every  day  and  the  dirt  is  made 
to  fall  into  an  earthenware  basin.  This  is  done  until  all  the 
skin  comes  off  and  only  then  is  the  chief  buried.  This  skin 
is  put  into  the  rain  pots.' 

"  There  are,  as  in  many  other  instances,  regalia.  The 
chief  of  these  is  a  drum,  Rangoedi. 

"  *  The  Rangoedi  appears  to  be  important  as  giving  power 
to  the  chief,  for  when  the  heir  is  being  instructed  and  initiated 

1  S.  S.  Dornan,  "  The  Killing  of  the      xv.  (1918).    Cited  by  C.  G.  Seligman 
Divine    King  in   South   Africa,"   in      in  Egypt  and  Negro  Africa,  p.  31. 
South  African  Journal  of  Science,  vol. 


into  the  secrets  of  rain-making  prior  to  the  queen's  death  she 
sits  on  this  drum.  And  finally  on  the  day  of  her  coronation 
this  drum  is  her  chair.1  "  x 

Once  more,  among  the  Sakalava  of  North-western  Mada- 
gascar, when  a  king  of  the  Volamena  dynasty  is  on  the  point 
of  death,  it  is  customary  to  cut  his  throat  with  a  knife  reserved 
specially  for  this  operation,  thus  hastening  his  death  by  at 
least  some  minutes.2  The  custom  apparently  originates  in 
the  common  unwillingness  to  allow  the  king  to  die  of  weakness 
or  old  age,  and  that  reluctance  in  its  turn  rests  on  the  belief 
that  the  enfeeblement  of  the  king's  physical  powers  necessarily 
entails  a  corresponding  decline  in  the  state  of  his  people  and 
of  the  whole  country.  Thus  the  practice  of  cutting  the  throat 
of  a  Sakalava  king  when  he  is  at  the  point  of  death,  like  the 
custom  of  strangling  the  Sultan  of  Uha  under  the  like  circum- 
stances, is  probably  a  relic  of  an  older  custom  of  killing  him 
at  the  first  symptom  of  bodily  or  mental  decay. 

From  these  and  similar  cases  cited  in  my  earlier  work  we 
may  infer  that  the  institution  of  a  priestly  kingship  with  a 
tenure  not  unlike  that  of  Nemi  was  widespread  in  Africa 
down  to  recent  years  ;  and  in  every  instance,  where  the  reason 
_  of  the  custom  is  reported,  the  motive  for  killing  the  king  was 
apparently  a  belief  that  the  welfare  of  the  people,  and  par- 
ticularly the  fertility  of  the  land,  of  cattle,  and  of  women, 
were  so  intimately  bound  up  with  his  health  and  strength 
that  any  impairment  or  failure  of  his  bodily  vigour  through 
sickness  or  age  would  infallibly  draw  down  calamity  or  even 
ruin  on  the  country  and  its  inhabitants,  while  his  death  from 
either  of  these  causes  would  be  fraught  with  incalculable  evils 
for  the  community.  In  these  circumstances  his  subjects  had 
seemingly  no  choice  but  either  to  put  him  to  death  before  the 
dreaded  decay  had  sapped  his  energies,  or  to  allow  him  to  be 
attacked  by  a  candidate  for  the  kingship,  who,  by  slaying  him, 
demonstrated  at  once  the  incapacity  of  the  deceased  and  his 
own  fitness  to  discharge  the  onerous  duties  of  the  office.  On 
this  analogy  we  may  suppose  that  the  priest  of  Diana  at 

*  C.  G.  Seligman,  Egypt  and  Negro  207  sq. 
Africa,   pp.   31    sq.,   quoting  Eileen 

Krige,  "  Agricultural  Ceremonies  and  a  G.  Grandidier,  "  La  Mort  et  les 

Practices   of  the  Balobedu,"  Bantu  fune'railles  &  Madagascar,"  VAntkro- 

Studies,     v.     (Johannesburg,     1931)  pologie,  xxiii.  (1912),  325. 


Nemi,  who  bore  the  title  of  King  of  the  Grove,  was  credited 
of  old  with  possessing  the  same  quickening  powers  over  the 
fecundity  of  wild  beasts,  cattle,  and  women  which  seem  to 
have  been  ascribed  to  the  goddess  herself,  and  that  con- 
sequently any  failure  of  his  bodily  strength  was  supposed  to 
entail  barrenness  alike  on  man  and  beast,  probably  also  on 
the  fields,  the  orchards,  and  the  vineyards.  To  avert  fhese 
disastrous  consequences  it  may  have  been  at  first  customary 
to  put  him  to  death  at  the  end  of  a  period  short  enough  to 
ensure  that  the  fatal  decline  had  not  yet  set  in  ;  and  in  course 
of  time  this  rigid  limitation  of  his  reign  and  life  may  so  far 
have  been  relaxed  that  he  was  suffered  to  retain  office  so 
long  as  he  could  make  good  his  title  by  defending  himself 
against  attack.  It  was  under  a  tenure  of  this  last  sort  that 
the  priest  of  Diana  at  Nemi  was  held  in  historical  times  ; 
and  though  the  custom  in  this  mitigated  form  afforded  the 
priest  a  chance  of  prolonging  his  life  indefinitely,  we  need 
not  wonder  that  candidates  for  the  priesthood  were  few,  and 
that  they  had,  at  least  in  later  times,  to  be  recruited  exclusively 
from  the  ranks  of  runaway  slaves.  This  explanation  of  the 
rule  of  the  priesthood  of  Nemi  is  necessarily  no  more  than  an 
hypothesis,  but  in  the  light  of  the  parallels  which  I  have  adduced 
the  hypothesis  appears  legitimate,  if  not  probable.1 

In  the  powerful  mediaeval  kingdom  of  the  Khazars  or 
Khozars  of  South-eastern  Russia  the  kings  were  not  allowed 
to  reign  and  live  beyond  a  certain  period,  which  is  variously 
stated  by  the  Arab  travellers  and  geographers,  who  are  our 
principal  authorities  on  the  kingdom.  Elsewhere  I  have 
collected  the  evidence  on  the  subject.2 

Elsewhere  we  have  seen  that  every  Spartan  king  was  liable 
to  have  his  royal  functions  suspended  every  eighth  year  if 
on  a  clear  moonless  night  the  ephors  observed  a  falling  star, 
and  that  he  could  only  be  reinstated  in  his  office  by  an  oracle 
from  Delphi  or  Olympia.  The  custom  may  point  to  a  former 
limitation  of  the  king's  reign  to  eight  years,  and  in  illustration 

1  In  this  summary  of  the  foregoing  Khazar  Kings,"  Folk-lore,  xxviii. 

evidence,  as  in  some  of  the  preceding  (1917)  382-407.  Reprinted  in  my 

pages,  I  have  allowed  myself  to  quote  Garnered  Sheaves  (London,  1931), 

from  my  commentary  on  Ovid's  pp.  212-234.  Compare  G.  Roheim, 

Fasti,  vol.  ni.  86  sq.  "  Killing  the  Divine  King,"  Man, 

1  J.  G.  Frazer,  "  The  Killing  of  the  xv.  (1915)  26-28. 


of  this  omen  drawn  from  a  shooting-star  I  have  cited  some 
examples  of  similar  superstitions  about  meteors  among  primi- 
tive peoples.1  To  these  examples  I  may  here  add  a  few  more 

Thus  in  Kiziba,  a  district  of  Central  Africa  to  the  west  of 
Lake  Victoria  Nyanza,  when  the  natives  see  a  large,  clear 
shooting-star,  they  think  that  it  portends  some  evil  to  the 
earth  brought  by  the  star-spirit  Hangi.  And  they  seek  to 
avert  the  danger  by  beating  drums  and  offering  sacrifices  to 
the  spirit.2  Among  the  Wabende,  a  tribe  inhabiting  the 
country  to  the  east  of  Lake  Tanganyika,  when  a  man  sees  a 
shooting-star  he  crouches  down  to  the  ground  and  says  : 
"  I  have  seen  you,  do  not  harm  me."  They  think  that  the 
sight  of  a  meteor  presages  some  misfortune.  It  is  the 
announcement  of  a  curse  which  some  sorcerer,  paid  by  an 
enemy,  has  cast  upon  a  whole  family.8  Among  the  Ila- 
speaking  peoples  of  Northern  Rhodesia  when  a  falling  star 
is  seen  it  is  greeted  with  curses.  A  man  spits  violently  on 
the  ground  in  the  direction  it  is  falling.  "7^«,"  he  says, 
"may  the  people  in  that  direction  come  to  an  end."  4  In 
Marsa  Matruh,  the  classical  Paraetonium,  a  district  in  North 
Africa  to  the  west  of  Alexandria,  the  natives,  who  are  Bedouin 
Arabs  with  a  strong  infusion  of  Berber  blood,  believe  that  the 
number  of  unfixed  stars  corresponds  to  the  tally  of  all  living 
creatures  on  the  face  of  the  earth,  and  that  the  falling  of  one 
of  these  stars  signifies  the  death  of  some  animal.5 

When  the  Birhors  of  Chota  Nagpur  in  India  see  a  shooting- 
star  or  meteor,  which  they  call  chandit  they  spit  at  it  and  say, 
"  Thoo,  thoo  !  There  goes  Chandi"  This  is  believed  to 
ward  off  any  calamity  that  might  otherwise  follow  in  the  wake 
of  the  meteor.6  In  Konkan,  a  district  of  the  Bombay  Presi- 
dency, "whenever  a  great  person  or  a  very  holy  man  is  about 
to  be  born,  it  is  believed  that  he  alights  on  the  earth  in  the 
shape  of  a  shooting-star.  Sometimes  a  big  star  falls  on  the 

1  The  Dying  God,  pp.  58  sqq.  Rhodesia^  ii.  219. 

*  H.  Rehse,  Kiziba  LandundLeute,         s  Qric  ^^  „  Ethnographic  Notes 

P\It*'       T     i_         •       A        D-       j       from  Marsa  Matruh,"  in  Journal  of 

*  Mgr.  Lechaptois,  Aux  R^veS  du     the  R(jyal  ^^  ^^  for 

Tanganyika,  p.  214.  (London    loiO   t>  r?6 

*  E.  W.  Smith  and  A.  M.  Dale,      ^n<lon»  WM  P-  73&- 

The  lid-speaking  Peoples  of  Northern         e  S.  C.  Roy,  The  Birhors^  p.  386. 


earth,  and  thereby  a  noise  like  that  of  thunder  is  produced. 
When  this  happens,  people  believe  that  a  great  king  or  a  holy 
saint  whose  merit  has  been  exhausted  is  going  to  be  born  on 
earth.  The  sight  of  a  shooting-star  should  be  kept  secret. 
In  the  Deccan  it  is  held  to  indicate  the  death  of  a  chaste 
woman  or  a  good  man.  It  is  also  said  that  the  stars  descend 
to  the  earth  in  human  form  when  sins  accumulate  in  the 
celestial  world.  The  influence  of  meteors  on  human  affairs 
is  treated  at  length  in  the  Varahasanhita.  The  phenomenon 
is  popularly  regarded  as  an  evil  omen  :  it  is  supposed  to  por- 
tend devastation  by  fire,  an  earthquake,  a  famine,  an  epidemic, 
danger  from  thieves,  and  storms  at  sea.  The  appearance  of  a 
bright  shooting-star  is  supposed  to  foretell  the  death  of  some 
great  man  ;  and  on  beholding  one,  it  is  customary  to  repeat 
the  words  '  Ram,  Ram  '  several  times.  A  shower  of  meteors 
is  believed  to  presage  some  civil  commotion  or  a  change  in  the 
ruling  dynasties."  x  This  last  belief  presents  some  analogy 
to  the  omen  which,  at  certain  times,  the  Spartans  drew  from 
the  appearance  of  falling  stars. 

Among  the  Kai  of  Northern  New  Guinea,  some  people 
think  that  meteors  are  the  souls  of  men  who  have  been 
done  to  death  by  a  magician,  and  are  now  seeking  out  the 
village  where  the  wicked  magician  lives  in  order  to  reveal  his 
identity  to  their  friends  and  kinsfolk.  Others  are  of  the 
opinion  that  meteors  are  the  souls  of  living  persons  who  are 
now  going  with  torches  to  the  villages  where  the  enchanters 
live.  Others  say  that  stars  simply  fall  from  the  sky  like  fruit 
from  a  tree.  Hence  when  they  see  a  star  falling,  to  prevent 
its  fall  from  producing,  by  sympathetic  magic,  the  falling  out 
of  their  teeth,  they  spit,  saying  "  O  Star  !  "  2  The  Bukaua, 
another  tribe  of  Northern  New  Guinea,  think  that  the  falling 
of  a  star  is  an  omen  of  bad  luck,  and  the  taro  plants  that  are 
touched  by  a  falling  star  will  put  forth  no  tubers.  Hence 
at  the  sight  of  a  meteor  they  spit  and  cry  out :  "  O  falling 
star,  go  and  spoil  the  taro  of  a  bad  man.113 

"  A  shooting-star  is  to  the  savage  of  New  Britain  a  thing 
of  fear.     On  Duke  of  York  group  it  is  called  a  wirua.     Now 

1  R.  E.  Enthoven,  The  Folklore  of         2  R.      Neuhauss,      Deutsch    Neu- 
Bombay,  pp.  70  sgg.,  who  gives  more      Guinea,  iii.  159  $q. 
evidence  on  the  subject,  a  R.  Neuhauss,  op.  dt.  iii.  432. 


wirua  means  to  die  by  violence  principally,  and  a  wirua  is  the 
corpse  for  a  cannibal  feast.  Hence  when  a  shooting-star 
flashes  across  the  sky,  people  cry  out c  A  wirua,  a  wirua/  and 
the  belief  is  that  when  the  star  flashes  on  its  way  a  person  has 
just  been  killed  for  cannibal  purposes.  In  New  Britain  the 
name  given  to  a  meteor  is  tulugiai  ra  virua^  i.e.  the  soul  of  a 
body  killed  for  cannibalistic  purposes."  x  Among  the  abori- 
gines of  Australia,  whenever  a  shooting-star  is  seen  travelling 
towards  the  earth,  they  are  said  to  take  it  for  the  soul  of  a 
dead  man  returning  temporarily  to  his  old  haunts  on  earth.2 
Elsewhere  we  have  seen  that  in  Africa  the  souls  of  dead 
kings  and  chiefs  are  often  supposed  to  be  incarnate  in  lions. 
On  this  subject  I  will  here  adduce  some  fresh  evidence.  Thus 
among  the  Manganja,  a  tribe  inhabiting  a  hilly  district  on  the 
Shire  River  in  South  Africa,  "  it  is  believed  also  that  the  souls 
of  departed  Chiefs  enter  into  lions  and  render  them  sacred. 
On  one  occasion,  when  we  had  shot  a  buffalo  in  the  path 
beyond  the  Kafue,  a  hungry  lion,  attracted  probably  by  the 
smell  of  the  meat,  came  close  to  our  camp,  and  roused  up  all 
hands  by  his  roaring.  Tuba  Mokoro,  imbued  with  the 
popular  belief  that  the  beast  was  a  chief  in  disguise,  scolded 
him  roundly  during  his  brief  intervals  of  silence.  '  You  are 
a  chief,  eh  ?  You  call  yourself  a  chief,  do  you  ?  What  kind 
of  chief  are  you  to  come  sneaking  about  in  the  dark,  trying  to 
steal  our  buffalo  meat  ?  Are  you  not  ashamed  of  yourself  ? 
A  pretty  chief  truly ;  you  are  like  the  scavenger  beetle,  and 
think  of  yourself  only.  You  have  not  the  heart  of  a  chief ; 
why  don't  you  kill  your  own  beef  ?  You  must  have  a  stone 
in  your  chest,  and  no  heart  at  all,  indeed ! '  Tuba  Mokoro 
producing  no  impression  on  the  transformed  chief,  one  of  the 
men,  the  most  sedate  of  the  party,  who  seldom  spoke,  took 
up  the  matter  and  tried  the  lion  in  another  strain.  In  his 
slow,  quiet  way  he  expostulated  with  him  on  the  impropriety 
of  such  conduct  to  strangers  who  had  never  injured  him. 
'  We  were  travelling  peaceably  through  the  country  back  to 
our  own  chief.  We  never  killed  people,  nor  stole  anything. 
The  buffalo  meat  was  ours,  not  his,  and  it  did  not  become  a 

1  B.    Danks,    "  Some    Notes    on  Science  (1910),  p.  453. 
Savage    Life    in    New    Britain,"    in 

Twelfth  Report  of  the  Australasian  *  H.     Basedow,     The    Australian 

Association  for  the  Advancement  of  Aboriginal^  p.  296. 


great  chief  like  him  to  be  prowling  round  in  the  dark,  trying, 
like  a  hyaena,  to  steal  the  meat  of  strangers.  He  might  go 
and  hunt  for  himself,  as  there  was  plenty  of  game  in  the 
forest/  The  Pondoro,  being  deaf  to  reason,  and  only  roaring 
the  louder,  the  men  became  angry  and  threatened  to  send  a 
ball  through  him  if  he  did  not  go  away."  x  When  Speke  was 
staying  in  Karague,  a  district  on  the  shore  of  Lake  Victoria 
Nyanza,  he  was  told  that  when  a  certain  old  king  had  died  his 
body,  "  after  the  fashion  of  his  predecessors,  was  sewn  up  in  a 
cow-skin  and  placed  in  a  boat  floating  on  the  lake,  where  it 
remained  for  three  days,  until  decomposition  set  in  and 
maggots  were  engendered,  of  which  three  were  taken  into  the 
palace  and  given  in  charge  of  the  heir-elect ;  but  instead  of 
remaining  as  they  were,  one  worm  was  transformed  into  a 
lion,  another  into  a  leopard,  and  the  third  into  a  stick."  2 
Again  we  have  seen  that  in  Africa  the  souls  of  dead  kings  and 
chiefs  are  often  thought  to  be  incarnate  in  serpents.3 

In  treating  of  the  great  games  of  ancient  Greece  I  had 
occasion  to  notice  the  tradition  that  in  all  cases  they  were 
funeral  games  celebrated  in  honour  of  the  dead,  and  in 
illustration  of  this  tradition  I  cited  some  examples  of  other 
funeral  games.4  To  these  I  can  now  add  a  few  more.  Thus 
in  Samoa  "  the  funeral  obsequies  of  a  chief  of  rank  lasted 
from  ten  to  fifteen  days,  during  which  time  the  house  in 
which  he  died  was  watched  night  and  day  by  men  appointed 
for  the  purpose.  After  burial,  and  until  the  days  of  mourn- 
ing were  ended,  the  days  were  usually  spent  in  boxing  and 
wrestling  matches,  with  sham  fights ;  the  nights  being  occu- 
pied with  dancing  and  practising  a  kind  of  buffoonery, 
common  to  these  seasons  of  mourning  for  the  dead."5 
"  Sometimes  a  chief  died  at  a  distance  from  his  own  settle- 
ment, when  after  a  time  his  body  was  brought  to  the  family 
burial-place  with  much  ceremony  and  a  kind  of  military 
show,  called  O  le  langi.  It  was  followed  by,  or  rather  in 
part  consisted  of,  sham  fights,  boxing  matches,  and  dances, 
which  took  place  after  the  skull  of  the  deceased  chieftain 

1  D.  and  C.  Livingstone,  Narrative      covery  of  the  Source  of  the  Nile,  p.  181. 
of  an  Expedition  to  the  Zambesi  and          »  The  Dying-  God,  p.  84. 
its   Tributaries   (London,    1865),  pp.          «  The  Dying  God,  pp.  92  sqq* 

•  T^'TT    c.     ,  *  J-  B-  Stair>  Old  S*™°*>  PP.  183 

J.  H.  Speke,  Journal  of  the  Dis-      sq. 


had  been  placed  in  the  tomb."  x  Among  the  Ten' a  Indians 
of  the  Yukon  Territory  in  Alaska  "  every  year,  or  at  least 
every  other  year,  the  feast  of  the  dead  is  held  with  great 
solemnity.  The  proper  time  for  this  celebration  is  mid- 
winter, i.e.  the  time  of  the  winter  solstice,  which  also  co- 
incides with  the  beginning  of  the  Ten1  a  year.  Sometimes 
a  celebration  of  secondary  importance  is  held  at  midsummer, 
but  the  neighbouring  villages  do  not  generally  take  part  in 
it,  and  it  remains  exclusively  local,  whereas  for  the  winter 
feast  two  or  three  villages  join  together,  and  even  from  the 
remoter  ones  representatives  are  sent  to  participate  in  the 
solemnities,  and  in  the  distribution  of  presents. 

"  These  feasts  are  termed  mourning  celebrations,  not  in 
the  sense  that  they  are  attended  with  sadness  or  sorrow,  but 
because  they  are  held  in  remembrance  of  those  who  died 
during  the  year  or,  more  exactly,  since  the  last  celebration. 
Though  mingled  occasionally  with  the  lamentations  of  the 
dead  ones'  relatives,  their  dominant  character  is  one  of 
rejoicing.  The  virtues  of  the  deceased  are  commemorated, 
and  they  receive  a  sort  of  apotheosis.  .  .  .  Among  the 
lower  tribe,  races,  wrestling  matches,  and  other  sports 
regularly  take  place  during  the  feast,  and  contribute  to 
enliven  the  celebration.  The  upper  tribe  folk  admit  that 
such  was  once  their  custom  also,  and  their  folklore  bears 
witness  to  it,  but  these  manly  amusements  have  been  com- 
pletely superseded  by  card-games,  and  reckless  gambling 
is  now  their  only  and  prosaic  recreation."  2  In  ancient  Greece, 
Teutamides,  king  of  Larissa  in  Thessaly,  is  said  to  have 
celebrated  funeral  games  in  honour  of  his  dead  father,  at 
which  Perseus  competed,  and  in  throwing  the  quoit  acciden- 
tally killed  Acrisius,  king  of  Argos.8 

We  have  seen  that  in  ancient  Babylon  there  is  some 
evidence  pointing  to  the  conclusion  that  formerly  the  king's 
tenure  of  office  was  limited  to  a  single  year,  at  the  end  of 
which  he  was  put  to  death.4  The  Banyoro  or  Bakitara  of 
Uganda  used  to  practise  a  remarkable  custom  which  seems 
to  indicate  that  down  to  recent  times  they  practised  a  similar 

1  J.  B.  Stair,  op.  tit.  p.  179.  vi.  (1911)  PP-  7O9-7"- 

a  F.  J.  Jette,  "  On  the  Superstitions         *  Apollodorus,  ii.  iv.  4. 
of  the  Ten'a  Indians,"  in  Anthropos,         *  The  Dying  God,  pp.  113  sg> 


custom  of  limiting  to  a  single  year  the  tenure  of  the  king's 
office  and  life.  The  custom  is  thus  described  by  Canon 
Roscoe.  "  At  or  about  the  time  of  year  when  the  king  had 
been  buried,  the  reigning  king  told  Bamuroga  x  to  prepare  a 
feast  for  the  departed  king.  Bamuroga  chose  a  poor  man 
of  the  Babito  clan  to  impersonate  the  dead  king,  and  the 
man  so  chosen  lived  in  regal  state  in  the  king's  tomb  and  was 
called  by  the  name  of  the  monarch  he  represented,  for  he 
was  said  to  be  the  old  king  revived.  He  lived  in  the  tomb, 
was  feasted  and  honoured,  and  had  full  use  of  the  women 
of  the  tomb,  the  widows  of  the  old  king.  The  king  sent 
him  presents  and  he  sent  his  blessing  to  the  king,  the  country, 
and  the  cattle.  He  distributed  gifts  of  cows  belonging  to 
the  king  as  he  pleased,  and  for  eight  days  lived  like  a  king. 
When  the  ninth  day  came  he  was  taken  away  to  the  back  of 
the  tomb  and  strangled,  and  no  one  heard  anything  more 
about  him.  This  was  an  annual  ceremony.'1  2  It  seems 
probable  that  this  mock  king  who  held  office  for  eight  days 
every  year  was  a  substitute  for  the  king  himself,  who  thus 
died  every  year  in  the  person  of  his  deputy.  In  earlier  times 
the  king  may  have  had  no  choice  but  to  die  every  year  in 
his  own  person,  at  the  end  of  a  brief  reign  of  a  single 

Again,  in  Southern  Nigeria,  "  among  the  Eket  a  faint 
tradition  yet  lingers  of  *  a  priest  who  slew  the  slayer  and 
must  himself  be  slain.'  This  came  to  our  knowledge  through 
the  following  story,  told,  with  slight  variations,  by  two  well- 
known  Ibibio  : 

"  i  In  the  olden  time,  far  away  from  here,  there  dwelt 
a  people  called  Ikot  Ako  Anyan.  The  last  name  was  given 
them  because  they  worshipped  the  great  Juju  '  Anyan.' 

"  *  Every  year,  at  the  time  when  the  yam  vines  first 
clothe  their  poles  with  green,  the  people  of  Ikot  Ako  used 
to  come  down  into  the  Ibibio  country,  and  ask  that  an  old 
chief  might  be  delivered  over  to  them,  to  become  priest  of 
their  Juju  until  the  same  season  came  round  again.  When 

1  Bamuroga^  one  of  the  two  chiefs  126  tq.  Compare  J  Roscoe,  The 

appointed  to  take  charge  of  the  royal  Soul  of  Central  Africa  (London, 

tomb.  1922),  p.  202. 

*  J.    Roscoe,    The    Bakitara,    pp. 


this  request  had  been  granted,  they  went  away,  leaving  a 
blessing  upon  the  farms.  .  .  . 

"  '  Of  all  the  Ibibio  chiefs  led  away  to  be  priests,  none 
ever  came  back,  for  each  died  within  the  year,  and  another 
was  chosen  in  his  stead.  Some  say  the  Juju  killed  them  ; 
but  others  state  that  each  year  the  new  priest  slew  his  prede- 
cessor, knowing  full  well  that  in  twelve  more  moons  he  must 
himself  be  slain.' 

"  It  was,  unfortunately,  impossible  to  get  more  definite 
information.  We  were  told,  vaguely,  -that  the  Ikot  Akos 
never  came  to  this  country  any  more,  nor  did  the  Ibibio  go 
to  theirs.  Moreover,  these  were  stories  of  long  ago,  for- 
gotten by  all  save  a  few  old  men.  Therefore  it  was  no 
longer  possible  to  learn  anything  further. 

"  A  year  later,  while  engaged  on  a  study  of  the  I  bo 
people,  good  fortune  brought  us  to  a  town  of  some  five 
thousand  inhabitants,  the  spiritual  ruler  of  which  owns 
that  each  of  his  predecessors  was  '  a  priest  who  slew  the 
slayer  and  must  himself  be  slain.1  The  present  holder  of 
the  dignity  naturally  showed  some  reticence  concerning  the 
steps  by  which  he  himself  succeeded  to  office.11  * 

1  P.  A.  Talbot,  Life  in  Southern  Nigeria,  pp.  336-338. 



ELSEWHERE  I  have  had  occasion  to  notice  a  widely  diffused 
popular  story  of  a  fairy  wife  or  husband  which  conforms  to  the 
type  known  as  the  Swan  Maiden,  or  Beauty  and  the  Beast,  or 
Cupid  and  Psyche,1  and  I  have  cited  examples  of  the  tale. 
Here  I  will  add  a  few  more  instances.     A  common  story  told 
all  over  Indonesia,  if  not  over  the  whole  Malay-Polynesian 
region,  is  that  seven  or  nine  heavenly  women  descended  to 
earth  every  night  to  bathe  in  the  form  of  birds,  throwing  off 
their  wings  and  plunging  into  the  water  as  girls.     Once  upon 
a  time  they  were  observed  by  a  man,  who  took  away  the 
wings  of  the  youngest.    When  the  others  were  finished  bath- 
ing, they  donned  their  wings  again  and  flew  back  to  heaven. 
But  the  youngest,  deprived  of  her  wings,  remained  helplessly 
behind  as  a  girl.     She  was  taken  by  the  man  who  had  stolen 
her  wings,  and  became  his  wife.     Generally  it  is  also  told  that 
the  pair  had  a  child,  and  that  the  wife,  offended  by  her 
husband,  returned  to  heaven,  whereupon  the  disconsolate 
husband  sought  her  everywhere  for  the  sake  of  the  child,  but 
could  find  her  nowhere.2 

Thus  in  Efate,  one  of  the  New  Hebrides,  the  story  runs 
that  "  the  people  of  the  sky,  perceiving  that  the  tide  was  out 
and  the  reef  bare,  came  down  and  took  off  their  white  wings 
and  proceeded  to  fish  with  torches  along  the  shore.  At  dawn 
they  put  on  their  wings,  sang  a  song,  and  flew  back  to  heaven. 
This  they  often  repeated.  One  night,  when  they  had  come 
down,  laid  aside  their  wings,  and  were  fishing,  a  man  of  the 

1  The  Dying  God,  pp.  130  syg. 
1  N.  Adrian!  and  A.  C.  Kruijt,  op.  cit.  iii.  401. 



country,  who  had  been  watching  them,  saw  where  they  had 
laid  their  wings,  and  when  they  were  out  of  sight  he  took  the 
wings  of  one  of  them  and  hid  them  in  a  banana  stem.  In  the 
morning,  at  the  peep  of  dawn,  they  came  together,  laid  down 
the  fish  they  had  caught,  and  began  to  put  on  their  wings  for 
flight.  All  did  so  but  one,  whose  wings  could  not  be  found, 
and  she  was  a  woman.  The  man  who  had  stolen  and  hidden 
the  wings  came  and  took  her  for  his  wife.  They  lived  peace- 
ably together,  and  had  two  sons  ;  the  name  of  the  one  was 
Naka  Tafaki,  and  the  name  of  the  other  was  Karisi  Bum. 

"  By  and  by  trouble  arose  in  the  household.  The  man 
ill-treated  his  wife  and  said  to  her,  '  You  are  a  wicked  woman, 
cause  of  trouble  and  sorrow  ;  go  back  to  your  own  country.1 
This  made  her  heart  sore,  and  she  sighed  for  the  lost  wings 
that  she  might  fly  away  from  all  this  turmoil  and  be  at  rest. 
One  day  she  and  her  sons  were  out  together,  and  the  youths 
discovered  a  white  thing  in  a  banana  stem.  It  was  their 
mother's  lost  wings.  Overjoyed,  she  resolved  to  put  them  on 
and  fly  away  from  earth  to  heaven.  But  before  she  did  so 
she  told  her  sons  of  their  kindred  in  heaven,  in  the  hope  that 
one  day  they  would  all  meet  there.  Then  she  put  on  her 
wings,  sang  the  appropriate  song,  and,  after  swinging  back- 
wards and  forwards  a  few  times,  flew  swiftly  away  to  heaven. 
The  brothers  went  home  and  told  their  father.  .  .  . 

11  Now  the  brothers  were  continually  being  taunted  with 
being  strangers  and  pilgrims,  and  they  longed  to  depart 
to  their  mother's  country.  One  day  it  fell  out  that  they  were 
shooting  birds  with  arrows,  and  one  of  the  arrows  lodged  in 
the  sky  and  stuck  fast  in  the  roots  of  a  banyan  tree.  Another 
arrow  shot  after  it  stuck  fast  in  the  end  of  the  shaft  of  the  first 
arrow,  and  so  with  arrow  after  arrow,  until  there  was  a  chain 
of  them  extending  from  heaven  to  earth,  and  up  it  the  two 
brothers  climbed  into  the  sky.  There  they  found  an  old 
woman  cooking  yams,  and  she  knew  her  grandsons.  So  all 
their  troubles  were  over.11  * 

A  Maori  version  of  the  story  runs  as  follows  :  "  In  days 
of  yore,  when  gods  and  heroes  deigned  to  dwell  upon  earth, 
one  Tairi-a-kohu,  a  supernatural  being,  descended  from  the 

1  Dr.  Macdonald,"  The  Mythology  of    Australasian  Association  for  the  Ad- 
theEfatesi," 'v&\k&  Seventh  Report of 'the  ,  vancement  of  Science,  1878,  pp.  764^. 


heavens,  in  order  that  she  might  bathe  in  the  waters  of  this 

world.     She  was  seen  to  descend,  surrounded  by  mist,  by  one 

Venuku,  who,  captivated  by  the  rare  charms  of  the  Mist 

Maiden,  sought  to  capture  her.     But  she  only  stayed  with 

him  during  the  night,  and  at  break  of  day  she  departed  every 

morning  and  ascended  to  the  heavens,  from  which  she  again 

descended  when  the  shades  of  night  fell.     And  she  told 

Venuku  that  he  must  not  on  any  account  mention  anything 

about  her  or  show  her  to  his  people.     Were  he  to  do  so  she 

would  leave  him,  never  to  return.     But  when  their  child  was 

born  and  well  grown,  then  Venuku  might  inform  his  people 

as  to  who  his  wife  was.     So  time  passed  by  and  at  last  the 

child  was  born,  and  was  named  Heheu-rangi.    Then  Venuku's 

heart  became  dry  with  desire  to  exhibit  his  wife  to  his  own 

people.     So  he  carefully  closed  all  apertures  through  which 

light  might  enter  his  dwelling,  and  the  next  morning  he 

managed  to  detain  his  celestial  wife  until  broad  daylight. 

Then,  when  Tairi  rose  to  return  to  the  heavens,  she  found  that 

daylight  was  upon  the  world,  and  that  many  people  had 

collected  outside  the  house  in  order  to  view  her.     Then  was 

the  Maid  of  the  Mist  dismayed,  so  stood  she  beneath  the 

window  of  the  house,  clothed  with  nought  save  her  own  long 

hair,  which  covered  her  as  a  shawl.     And  so  she  sang  a  song 

of  farewell  and  upbraiding  to  her  husband  Venuku.     Then 

she  ascended  to  the  heavens  and  left  Venuku  disconsolate."  x 

Among  the  Kiwai  of  British  New  Guinea  the  story  runs 

thus  :   A  handsome  Puruma  boy  while  steering  a  canoe  was 

seen  by  an  oboubi  girl,  that  is,  a  water-maiden,  who  came  to 

him  the  next  night  when  he  was  sleeping  in  the  canoe.     He 

was  very  much  attracted  by  her,  and  married  her,  keeping  her 

hidden  from  the  people.     She  bore  him  a  child,  and  when  she 

had  recovered  she  was  shown  to  the  people.    Some  men  asked 

the  husband  to  let  them  have  her,  and  the  conversation  was 

overheard  by  the  girl,  who,  being  a  "  devil-woman,"  could 

hear  anything  a  long  way  off.     She  wept  bitterly,  and  felt  so 

mortified  that  when  everybody  was  asleep  in  the-night  she  took 

her  child  and  went  into  the  water,  returning  to  her  own  place.2 

1  E.  Best.  "  Maori  Mythology,"  in      Science  (1904),  pp.  450  sqq. 
the  Tenth  Report  of  the  Australasian         z  G.  Landtman,  The  Kiwai  Papu- 
Association  for  the  Advancement  of     ans  of  British  New  Guinea,  p.  305. 


Among  the  Tami  of  Northern  New  Guinea  the  story  runs 
somewhat  differently.  They  say  that  in  the  Ngeng  River  a 
crocodile  bore  a  girl.  The  girl  lived  in  the  body  of  her 
mother.  When  the  girl  was  big  she  said  to  her  mother, 
"All  the  people  are  away  in  the  fields.  Let  me  go  on  land 
that  I  may  dance  a  little."  But  there  was  a  woman  in  child- 
bed remaining  in  the  village,  who  saw  the  girl  as  she  danced. 
The  woman  said  to  herself,  "  O  what  a  fine  girl.  My  brother 
must  marry  her."  The  next  morning,  when  the  people  went 
forth  to  the  fields,  her  brother  remained  behind  with  her,  and 
saw  the  girl  dancing.  When  she  wished  to  return  to  her 
crocodile  mother,  he  seized  her,  and  took  her  to  his  mother, 
and  made  her  his  wife.  They  lived  happily,  and  after  some 
time  she  bore  him  a  son.  One  day  the  boy,  her  son,  was 
taunted  by  a  companion  with  having  a  crocodile  grandmother. 
He  returned  in  great  grief  to  the  house,  and  told  his  mother 
what  had  happened,  and  she  called  upon  her  crocodile  mother, 
who  received  them  both.1 

Among  the  Kachari,  a  tribe  of  Assam,  the  story  goes  that 
"  there  was  a  certain  lad  whose  father  died  before  he  was 
born.  And  one  day,  when  he  had  grown  a  big  boy,  he  asked 
his  mother,  '  What  did  my  father  do  for  his  living  ?  '  And 
his  mother,  drawing  a  long  breath,  said  '  Your  father  used  to 
travel  about  selling  things.  Ah,  if  he  were  alive  we  should 
have  no  trouble  to  endure  !  '  But  the  lad  replied,  '  Do  not 
you  think  that  I  too  could  earn  money  in  that  way  ?  Bring 
out  what  money  there  is  and  let  me  see  what  I  can  do.'  But 
his  mother  said, '  Ah,  my  son,  you  must  not  talk  like  that.  If 
you  go  away  into  foreign  lands  and  die  there,  what  will  become 
of  me  ?  '  But  her  son  would  not  listen  to  her,  and  by  impor- 
tunity induced  her  to  give  him  money,  with  which  he  bought 
goods  and  procured  a  boat,  and  hiring  two  or  three  men,  took 
leave  of  his  mother,  and  went  into  a  far  country  to  trade. 
Finally  he  came  to  a  certain  place  where  he  moored  his  boat, 
at  the  place  where  men  draw  water,  and  sent  his  men  to  hawk 
his  wares  from  village  to  village  while  he  himself  stayed  in 
the  boat.  It  happened  that  there  lived  hard  by  an  old  couple 
who  possessed  a  white  swan,  which  they  fed  and  tended  as 
though  it  were  their  own  child.  One  day  the  lad  saw  this 

1  R.  Neuhauss,  Deutsch  Neu-Guinea,  iii.  564 


swan  strip  itself  of  its  swan  plumage  and  become  a  beautiful 
maiden,  and  bathe.  From  that  time  forth  he  paid  great 
attention  to  the  owners  of  the  swan,  and  gave  them  presents 
of  the  oil  and  other  things  he  had  in  his  boat.  And  when  the 
merchandise  had  been  sold  and  the  time  was  come  to  go  home, 
he  went  to  the  old  people's  house  and  offering  much  money 
begged  them  to  sell  him  their  swan.  But  they  were  for  giving 
him  their  swan  for  nothing.  He,  however,  feared  to  commit 
a  sin  if  he  took  it  as  a  gift,  and,  because  it  was  the  old  man's 
property,  compelled  him  to  take  much  money  in  exchange  for 
it,  and  went  away. 

"  But  when  he  came  home  with  his  boat,  behold,  the  swan 
remained  a  swan,  and  for  disappointment  the  lad  pined  and 
wasted  away.  Seeing  which,  his  old  mother  consulted 
various  people,  but  got  no  help.  Finally  she  went  to  a  certain 
wise  woman,  who  said,  (  Sister,  do  not  you  understand  ? 
Something  has  happened  to  him  while  he  was  away  trading. 
You  must  use  a  device  to  find  out  what  it  is.1  To  which  the 
mother  replied,  £  Tell  me  plainly  what  it  is,  and  you  will  do  a 
good  deed.'  So  the  wise  woman  gave  this  advice.  '  Some 
day  do  you  direct  a  maiden  to  search  for  lice  in  his  hair.  And 
while  she  is  doing  this,  let  her  pretend  to  be  mightily  grieved, 
and  let  her  ask  him  what  is  the  matter.  And  he  will  feel 
flattered,  and  will  open  out  his  heart  to  her.'  And  the  mother 
did  as  the  wise  woman  directed  her.  The  girl  she  sent  wept 
and  snuffled  as  she  tended  the  lad  and  said,  '  Tell  me  why  you 
pine  and  grow  thin,  else  I  too  will  give  up  food  and  drink.' 
And  so  he,  heaving  a  sigh,  explained  thus  :  '  While  I  was 
away  trading,  I  saw  the  white  swan  which  is  in  my  boat  turn 
into  a  maiden.  But  now  she  remains  a  swan,  and  for  her  love 
I  am  pining.' 

"  When  her  task  was  done,  she  told  the  lad's  mother,  who 
sent  word  to  the  wise  woman.  The  wise  woman  said,  c  Let 
the  girl  tell  him  that  the  swan  maiden  worships  her  own  gods 
in  the  dead  of  night.  Let  him  pretend  to  lie  asleep,  and 
when  she  divests  herself  of  her  swan  plumage,  let  him  seize  it 
and  thurst  it  into  the  hearth,  and  then  she  will  always  remain 
a  girl.'  The  old  mother  directed  the  girl  accordingly,  and 
the  girl  told  the  lad.  One  day  he  mixed  ashes  and  oil  in  a 
vessel,  and  procured  a  yak's  tail,  and  when  night  was  come  he 


lay  down  and  pretended  to  be  fast  asleep.  Presently  the 
swan  crept  out,  and  feeling  his  hands,  feet,  and  body  with  her 
beak,  was  satisfied  that  he  slept.  Then,  slowly  taking  off  her 
swan  skin,  she  became  absorbed  in  the  worship  of  her 
country's  gods.  And  the  lad,  seeing  his  opportunity,  grasped 
the  swan  plumage  and  thrust  it  into  the  hearth,  so  that  it  was 
singed,  and  the  smell  of  the  feathers  filled  the  place.  And  the 
maiden,  smelling  the  burning  feathers,  cried,  '  What  have 
you  done  to  me  ?  What  have  you  done  to  me  ?  '  So  saying, 
she  fell  down  in  a  faint,  and  seemed  as  one  dead.  But  the 
lad,  taking  his  vessel  of  oil,  anointed  her  with  it,  and  fanned 
her  gently  with  the  yak's  tail,  till  she  came  to.  And  so  they 
married,  and  begat  many  sons  and  daughters,  and  lived 
happily  ever  after.  And  that's  all !  " x 

Among  the  Garos,  another  tribe  of  Assam,  the  story  runs 
that  two  brothers,  Aual  and  Gunal,  heard  two  doves  talking. 
They  caught  the  birds,  and  Aual  killed  his  bird,  but  Gunal 
put  his  in  a  cage  and  took  great  care  of  it.  One  day,  when 
all  the  people  had  gone  to  their  fields,  the  dove  turned  into 
a  woman,  and  coming  out  of  the  cage,  boiled  rice,  drew  water, 
swept  the  floor  and  sprinkled  it  with  water,  and  then,  turning 
into  a  dove  again,  entered  the  cage  and  waited.  On  their 
return  from  the  fields  the  brothers  were  much  astonished, 
for  they  did  not  know  who  had  done  this.  The  same  thing 
happened  day  after  day,  and  the  brothers  thought  that  it 
must  be  the  work  of  ghosts  or  spirits.  At  last  one  day,  to 
solve  the  mystery,  Gunal  stayed  behind  in  the  morning  and 
feigned  to  be  fast  asleep.  Seeing  him,  as  she  thought, 
slumbering,  the  dove  came  out  of  the  cage  in  woman's  form, 
and  after  cooking  the  rice  and  vegetables  she  swept  the  floor. 
When  she  came  by  him  sweeping,  Gunal  seized  her  by  the 
wrist.  In  order  to  free  herself,  she  said,  "  Let  me  go,  then 
it  will  be  well  with  you ;  if  not,  it  will  not  be  well."  But 
Gunal  would  not  let  her  go,  so  she  said,  "  As  you  wish  it,  I 
will  marry  you,  but  if  from  doing  so  any  harm  comes  to  you, 
you  must  not  reproach  me/1  Gunal  promised  that  he  would 
never  reproach  her,  and  she  did  not  again  turn  into  a  dove, 
but  married  him.2 

1  S.  Endle,  The  Kacharis  (London,          f  A.  Playfair,  The  Gores  (London, 
1911),  pp.  119  sq*  1909),  pp.  123  sq. 



ELSEWHERE  I  have  described  a  custom  of  appointing  a 
temporary  or  a  mock  king  to  represent  the  real  king  for  a 
brief  time,  either  annually  or  once  for  all  at  the  beginning 
of  the  new  king's  reign.1  To  the  examples  which  I  have 
there  cited  I  may  here  add  a  few  more.  To  begin  with 
temporary  kings  appointed  for  a  brief  time  at  the  beginning 
of  a  reign,  among  the  Banyoro  or  Bakitara  of  Uganda,  after 
the  death  of  a  king,  a  solemn  ceremony  of  purification  was 
performed  by  a  princess  for  the  whole  land  and  the  people. 
Part  of  the  ceremony  was  this.  The  prime  minister,  Bamu- 
roga,)  went  to  one  of  the  young  princes  and  persuaded  him 
that  the  people  had  chosen  him  to  be  their  king.  The  boy 
was  set  upon  the  throne,  and  the  real  king,  with  all  the  chiefs, 
came  to  do  obeisance  as  though  they  acquiesced  in  the  choice 
and  wished  to  take  the  oath  of  allegiance  to  him.  They 
brought  with  them  presents  of  cows  and  offered  him  gifts 
and  congratulations.  When  all,  including  the  real  king, 
had  presented  their  offerings,  the  prime  minister  asked  the 
real  king,  "  Where  is  your  gift  to  me  ?  "  The  king  gave  a 
haughty  answer,  saying  that  he  had  already  given  his  gift 
to  the  right  person,  whereupon  the  prime  minister  pushed 
him  on  the  shoulder,  saying,  "  Go  and  bring  my  present." 
The  king  thereupon  called  his  followers  and  left  the  enclosure 
in  feigned  anger.  The  prime  minister  then  turned  to  the 
mock  king,  saying,  "  Let  us  flee  ;  your  brother  has  gone  to 
bring  an  army,"  and,  taking  the  boy  to  the  back  of  the  throne- 
room,  he  strangled  him.  This  completed  the  death  cere- 

1  The  Dying  God,  pp.  148-159. 


monies  and  the  subsequent  purifications,  and  the  new  king 
could  take  his  seat  upon  the  throne  and  begin  his  reign.1 
The  meaning  of  this  strange  rite  is  thus  explained  by  Canon 
Roscoe,  who  has  reported  the  custom  from  his  personal 
inquiries  among  the  Banyoro,  in  which  he  was  assisted  by 
the  king  himself :  "  This  boy-king  was  always  chosen  and 
killed  during  the  ceremonies  in  order  that  death  might  be 
deceived  and  the  real  king  secured  from  any  evil  that  might 
attach  itself  to  him  during  the  rites  or  that  might  not  be 
completely  removed  by  the  purification."  a  In  short,  the 
young  prince  was  killed  in  order  that  by  his  death  he  might 
save  the  life  of  his  elder  brother  the  king. 

Again,  among  the  Mossi,  a  tribe  of  the  Western  Sudan, 
after  the  death  of  a  king  (Moro-naba)  the  deceased  monarch 
is  replaced  by  his  eldest  daughter,  who  wears  the  royal  in- 
signia and  exercises  the  royal  power  for  seven  days.  She 
puts  on  the  huge  crown,  bracelets,  and  ornaments  of  her 
royal  father.  Thus  apparelled,  she  commands  for  seven 
days.  This  institution  does  not  exist  exclusively  for  the 
king.  It  is  observed  for  all  the  chiefs  of  the  country,  great  or 
small,  chiefs  of  cantons,  chiefs  of  villages,  and  even  Chiefs 
of  the  Earth.  When  they  die  their  eldest  daughter  becomes 
their  successor  for  a  space  of  time  which  may  last  as  long  as 
a  year,  but  which  is  generally  very  short.  The  institution  is 
thus  general.  In  the  interval  between  the  death  of  a  king 
and  the  appointment  of  his  successor,  that  is  to  say  about 
seven  days,  robbery,  pillage,  violence,  and  murders  were 
permitted  indiscriminately  throughout  the  country.  Another 
very  notable  custom  observed  by  the  Mossi  is  this  :  when  the 
new  king  has  assumed  the  regal  power,  they  choose  one  of  the 
sons  or  one  of  the  nephews  of  the  late  king  to  perpetuate  for 
some  time  the  memory  of  the  deceased  monarch.  They  give 
to  him  who  plays  the  part  the  red  cap,  the  bracelets,  and  a 
horse  of  the  dead  man,  and  two  of  his  young  wives.  The 
representative  (kourita)  of  the  deceased  king  has  rights 
which  are  excessive  but  temporary :  he  may  pillage  at  his 
ease  ;  when  he  lays  his  baton  on  an  object  or  an  animal  the 
thing  or  the  animal  is  his,  and  so  on ;  but  he  only  exercises 

1  J.  Roscoe,  The  Soul  of  Central  Africa,  pp.  201  sqq. 
*  J.  Roscoe.  The  Bakitara,  p.  130. 

326  TEMP  OR  A  R  Y  KINGS  CHAP. 

these  rights  until  the  new  king  has  completed  the  ceremony 
of  installation.  The  representative  of  the  deceased  king  is 
allowed  to  retain  all  the  objects  which  are  given  to  him  for 
his  temporary  royalty,  except  the  horse  of  the  dead  king, 
which  he  must  give  up  to  the  new  king  in  order  that  the 
latter  may  sacrifice  it  before  returning  to  the  village.1 

To  come  now  to  mock  or  temporary  kings  appointed 
annually  to  reign  for  a  short  period,  among  the  Kwottos 
of  Northern  Nigeria  the  King  of  Panda  used  to  be  regarded 
as  an  incarnate  divinity,  who  had  power  over  the  elements. 
Nevertheless,  at  an  annual  festival  one  of  the  king's  slaves, 
a  strong,  handsome  man,  was  allowed  for  a  single  day  to 
wear  a  leopard's  skin  (the  badge  of  royalty)  and  to  adorn 
his  head  with  a  pair  of  buffalo  horns  ;  thus  arrayed,  and 
attended  by  a  bodyguard  of  fifty  men,  armed  with  stout 
sticks,  he  used  to  strut  proudly  about  the  town,  exclaiming, 
"  I  am  king  at  this  festival.  Let  no  one  dispute  my  will." 
At  sight  of  him  in  the  distance  the  people  scattered,  believing 
that  he  had  the  power  to  cause  anyone  who  might  offend  him 
to  be  struck  down  with  a  mortal  sickness.  Should  he  be 
minded  to  kill  anyone  he  might  do  so,  and  no  questions  might 
be  asked  about  it.  He  made  a  round  of  the  town,  visiting 
any  house  he  pleased,  and  custom  compelled  the  inmates  to 
present  him  with  money  or  gowns  according  to  their  means. 
Meantime  the  real  king  provided  him  with  as  much  beer  to 
drink  and  as  many  slave  women  for  concubines  as  he  cared 
to  ask  for.  Even  before  he  assumed  the  leopard's  skin  and 
the  buffalo  horns,  the  slave  enjoyed  for  three  days  a  privileged 
position  in  the  King  of  Panda's  palace,  a  special  hut  for 
eating  in  and  a  special  hut  for  sleeping  in  being  assigned  to 
him  inside  the  palace  close  to  that  of  the  King.  When  he 
had  made  his  round  of  the  town,  he  returned  to  the  palace, 
and  the  real  King  thereupon  invested  him  with  a  new  white 
gown  and  turban.  After  receiving  them  the  slave  renounced 
his  pseudo-royal  privileges  until  the  following  year.  At 
Toto  to  this  day,  under  English  rule,  there  lives  a  strong  man 
of  slave  parentage,  who  acts  the  part  of  the  principal  slave 
in  this  ceremony  every  year,  though  on  these  festive  occasions 
he  naturally  does  not  enjoy  the  licentious  privileges  which 

1  L.  Tauxier,  Le  Noir  du  Yatenga,  p.  352. 

xxvi  TEMPORARY  KINGS  327 

were  accorded  to  his  predecessors  in  the  days  when  Panda 
was  an  independent  kingdom.1 

In  Bastar,  a  native  State  in  the  Central  Provinces  of 
India,  a  temporary  or  mock  king  is  still  annually  appointed 
to  replace  the  real  king  or  Rajah  for  nine  days.  The  oc- 
casion is  the  great  autumnal  festival  of  the  Dasahra,  which, 
we  are  told,  "  is  doubtless  the  autumn  Saturnalia  and  cele- 
brates the  return  of  fertility."  2  According  to  another  ac- 
count, "  the  Dasahra  festival  probably  marks  the  autumnal 
equinox  and  also  the  time  when  the  sowing  of  wheat  and  other 
spring  crops  begins.  Many  Hindus  still  postpone  sowing  the 
wheat  until  after  Dasahra,  even  though  it  might  be  convenient 
to  begin  before,  especially  as  the  festival  goes  by  the  lunar 
month  and  its  date  varies  in  different  years  by  more  than  a 
fortnight.  The  name  signifies  the  tenth  day,  and  prior  to 
the  festival  a  fast  of  nine  days  is  observed,  when  the  pots  of 
wheat  corresponding  to  the  gardens  of  Adonis  are  sown  and 
quickly  sprout  up.  This  is  an  imitation  of  the  growth  and 
sowing  of  the  real  crop  and  is  meant  to  ensure  its  success. 
During  these  nine  days  it  is  said  that  the  goddess  Devi  was 
engaged  in  mortal  combat  with  the  buffalo  demon  Mahisasur 
or  Bhainsasur,  and  on  the  tenth  day  of  the  Dasahra  she  slew 
him.  The  fast  is  explained  as  being  observed  in  order  to 
help  her  to  victory,  but  it  is  really  perhaps  a  fast  in  con- 
nection with  the  growing  of  the  crops.  A  similar  nine  days' 
fast  for  the  crops  was  observed  by  the  Greeks,  Devi  sig- 
nifies '  the  goddess  '  par  excellence.  She  is  often  the  tutelary 
goddess  of  the  village  and  of  the  family,  and  is  held  to  have 
been  originally  Mother  Earth,  which  may  be  supposed  to  be 
correct.  In  tracts  where  people  of  Northern  and  Southern 
India  meet  she  is  identified  with  Anna  Purna,  the  corn- 
goddess  of  the  Telugu  country  ;  and  in  her  form  of  Gauri 
or '  the  Yellow  One '  she  is  perhaps  herself  the  yellow  corn."  s 

"  In  the  Bastar  State  this  festival  is  elaborately  observed 
and  the  Hindu  rites  are  grafted  in  an  ingenious  manner  on 

1  J.  R.  Wilson-Haffenden,  "  Ethno-         2  J.  T.  Marten,  in  Census  of  India, 

graphic    Notes   on   the    Kwottos   of  1911,  vol.  x.  Parti.  (Calcutta,  1912) 

Toto  (Panda)  District,  Northern  Ni-  p.  83. 

geria,"   in  Journal  of  the   African         3  R.  V.  Russell,  Tribes  and  Castes 

Society,  vol.  xxvii.,  No.   cviii.  (July  of    the    Central  Provinces   of  India 

1928)  pp.  385  sq.  (London,  1916),  iv.  13. 


the  indigenous  ceremonies  connected  with  the  primitive 
autumn  Saturnalia,  which  celebrates,  in  the  worship  of  the 
mother  goddess,  the  revival  of  the  generative  principles 
of  the  earth.  ...  In  the  ceremonies  themselves